Every year, as the calendar approaches November, college students are faced with an insurmountable amount of stress. Gone is the giddiness that comes with returning to campus after a handful of months away from your friends, classes and home away from home. The stress of modern-day college life resumes. Every year we see students maxing out hours at the library studying during the period between fall break and finals, and as more and more pressure is put onto these students academically, their mental health takes a toll.
There’s been a number of reasons the University of Maine has been rumored to have implemented our fall break, from an attempt to decrease the risk of spreading the flu and other illnesses on the rise in mid-October, to a hope that a long weekend will help keep student’s stress and mental health in check. Whatever the reason may be the fact is that this recess becomes not a time for students to relax and regain their health midway through the semester, but instead a way for professors to add additional assignments and deadlines, laden with the expectation that extra work should be done because students have extra days off.
The stress of multiple deadlines within the second half of the semester, as well as the impending doom of final projects and tests that resides in December’s approach, leads students at UMaine to take drastic measures to combat any poor grades. Often these measures are seen anywhere from overworking and undersleeping, to abusing prescription medication such as Adderall to fuel long library binges.
The stress of classes and assignments does not pair well with a mix of homesickness, lack of proper nutrition and poor sleeping habits. This results in mental health struggles for many students, such as higher rates of anxiety, depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder as the days become shorter, colder and gloomier. The school’s counseling center begins to see an uprise in students calling to book appointments, so much so that they are booking three to four weeks in advance to speak to a counselor.
UMaine needs to recognize the pressure that is put on students in the month of November and realize that no amount of therapy dogs or RA sponsored dorm game nights can fix the overwhelming stress that students are faced with. Professors, administrators and other staff of the university need to rather change the way they deal with and speak to students and understand that if we are being expected to perform at our peak, we need to first have our physical and mental health in check.