If students begin to exhibit certain characters like sudden outbursts, disagreements with friends, dropping grades, it could be an indication of a bigger problem. Like adults, students who are predominantly children, teenagers and younger adults suffer from many psychological and mental health related problems. These disorders may be caused by environmental or behavioral factors. Teachers are then saddled with the responsibility of knowing their students well enough to be able to work with parents when these changes manifest.
Some of the mental health problems students are faced with include;
This is a common mood disorder which greatly influences the way you feel, think and go about daily activities. Depression is common among college students and students of other higher levels. If left untreated, the symptoms could lead to other diseases or even suicide. The affected student often feels unhappy, helpless and completely detached from the world. It interferes with how the student relates to others, their studying habit, eating and sleeping. This disorder in the brain is caused by a combination of genetic, biological and psychological factors.
Symptoms differ in individuals. Although the general symptom is as a result of chemical imbalance in the brain. The way one person exhibits signs is not necessarily the same as the next person. Changes occur in behavioral patterns; how change is handled etc. these symptoms may be hard to notice, so parents should endeavor to talk to their children from time to time and be abreast of things going on in their lives. Affected students are often advised to visit a therapist and the hospital also if needed. It is treatable, with lots of love and attention.
It is normal to feel stressed sometimes. It is a part of life, it, however, begins to call for caution when an anxiety disorder affects living negatively, stopping a student’s ability to function and causing stress and fear. This one is quite tricky as the symptoms may be mistaken for everyday stress or wearisomeness. Panic attacks from fear may be mistaken for heart attacks or a tension headache. Common symptoms are; shortness of breath, fear, irregular heartbeat, headaches, apprehension, upset stomach (diarrhea), sweating and dizziness, etc. Even though the exact cause of anxiety is not fully understood, it may be as result of fear for an exam, guilt, low self-esteem, bullying and the likes. These symptoms may come as flashes and occasional feelings; it is safe to contact a professional and not keep to you.
- Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Students with this disorder have been diagnosed with short attention spans, easy distraction, too much talking, constant interruptions, and hyperactivity. This disorder has been proven to have a strong hold on the student’s ability to learn, and the teacher’s to be in control of the classroom. When suspected, students are mostly referred to hospitals for assessment and medications readily curtail the symptoms.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD)
Students with OCD have prolonged thoughts and desires to exhibit certain behaviors repetitively. They want to go and on. They are often seen as a perfectionist- some may want their backpacks crimson, others want to be in control of things all the time. In fact, most thoughts revolving around OCD is to maintain extreme order in particular; most commonly in personal ways and high level of cleanliness. It often makes learning not so easy for them. They are distracted easily and may have low grades, lack of classroom concentration, lack of motivation while some may miss classes entirely.
- Tourette syndrome
This syndrome is characterized by repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalization tics. The tics are usually eye blinking, facial grimacing, shoulder shrugs, head jerks and other eye movements. Some complex tics are throat clearing, sniffing, grunting, barking, etc. The symptoms are often predominant in female students and severely affect concentration in class and pose a threat to other students.
- Eating disorders
These affect both male and female and are as a result of unhealthy eating. It may be Anorexia which is a prolonged disorder of eating due to loss of appetite or Bulimia (also called stress eating) over eating. Some of the red flags for these disorders include; poor body frame, dehydration, excessive exercising, etc. Eating disorders typically occur with young teenagers who eat too much as a result of stress, guilt, sadness or excitement. Many college students often have a hard time believing they have developed a problem and did not seek treatment. If left untreated it causes serious physical and mental problems that may result in life-threatening issues. It is often difficult to identify with as students with the disorder thrive academically.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
PTSD may be difficult to identify because affected students experience unpredictability; in their moods and behavior. While it is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic experience, fear may trigger lots of changes in the body. The individual’s body begins to defend against danger or begin to avoid it. Some situations like the sudden or unexpected death of a loved one can as well cause PSTD. Symptoms may begin shortly after the incident or may take years to show. Affected students may suffer from sudden flashbacks, frightening dreams, and nightmares. Sometimes they tend to stay away from places, events or objects that remind them of the experience and may cause them to change their personal routine often thereby affecting their relationships with other students.
Many people like to say addictions are affected by the state of mind. Alcoholism and drug use is a common form of addiction in most college campuses in the world. For some students, it is a symbol of independence that starts as a tradition. Students then begin to depend on the abuse as an escape from their worries, boost their confidence and a way to feel better about themselves.
Many students who take lots of alcohol and indulge in drug use don’t primarily develop an addiction, the side effects they experience i.e. withdrawal, slurred speech, dear, bloodshot eyes, and physical deterioration often lead them back to it until becomes a full-fledged addiction. A good number of addicted students can hide their symptoms well, so it is important to offer them help when you notice some signs. Do not be judgmental as it may cause total withdrawal.
In reality, the first point to spot trouble should be the family, but some parents may not know what to look for. Some serious problems may be waved over as a phase; family members should endeavor to stay in close contact with their kids, schools and most importantly their teachers.