The freshman year of college is still more than 5 months away and many prospective college students have not yet finalized their choice and are still carefully reviewing their options.
Whether you have chosen a College/University or not here are some things to consider.
Most college students move away from home and have new responsibilities, pressures and more independence, even interacting with an entirely different group of people, and usual patterns of exercise, sleep and diet are likely to be different as well. All of this can cause increased stress and unfortunately, an increased risk for mental health issues. Sadly, according to the American College Health Association, suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students and studies show that most U.S. universities are unprepared to deal with this mental health pandemic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), young adults account for 14% of all suicides. Although young adult males are more likely to be at risk for suicide, every gender and ethnicity is susceptible. Students with lower GPAs, or disabilities are at increased risk. Other risk factors include:
- Mental health disorders, especially mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and certain personality disorders
- Prior suicide attempts
- Feelings of isolation and lack of support
- Relationship problems
- Physical illness
- Poor coping skills
- A traumatic event
- Access to a suicide method
- Family history
- Impulsivity issues
- Screen time greater than 2 hours/day apart from work/school assignments
- Less than 30 minutes/day of physical fitness exercises
- Being indoors over 90% of the time
- C-reactive protein in blood of 2 or greater (often related to unhealthy diet)
Here at Weimar University students are equipped with tools to help them through these changes and have a more successful college experience. The most effective tool found to help combat these various risks is increasing the emotional intelligence of students which is one’s capacity to be aware of, manage, and express one’s emotions and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. Emotional Intelligence has been found to be the key to both personal and professional success.
To help students navigate their first year away from home, Weimar University has put into place many options to help safeguard students as well as promote continued emotional health. One of many Weimar advantages is that the average Weimar student in their freshman year has significantly higher emotional intelligence than the average college student elsewhere, and their emotional intelligence improves even more through their Weimar experience.
That means they are very nice people to be around. They are more likely to be friendly, want to get to know you, have better self-control, and are more compassionate and empathetic, and more willing to help those who are in need. This may be one of the reasons that Weimar University students are less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than other college/University students—they are around people who are nicer and kinder, and truly care about you, and far less likely to bully or tease inappropriately.
Initially, freshmen are offered the opportunity to take the Optimize Your Brain (OYB) 2 credit hour college course, which many have opted to take in the first semester. The course evaluates their emotional intelligence with a standardized emotional quotient test that is embedded in the DAAT (depression and anxiety assessment test). Based on the answers of the test taker, the test also gives specific recommendations that can improve their mental and emotional health. The average emotional intelligence of this year’s freshman class that took OYB was 117.6 as the school year began, which is greater than an entire standard deviation above the U.S. college mean (which is 100) and went up to 126.7 which puts the average Weimar freshman in the top 95th percentile of all college students in Emotional Intelligence after completing OYB.
This course has also been shown to decrease depression and anxiety scores in the majority of students who have depression and/or anxiety. The DAAT screens everyone taking the course for depression or anxiety. If present, students are confidentially referred to the student success coordinator, who is a trained counselor.
The Student Success Coordinator (SSC) is part of the support team that is available for all students. The SSC works closely with the Director of Student Services and is available to be a support in all areas of the student’s life; social, academic, and spiritual. Our current SSC, Margaret Gallant, has a Master’s Degree in Educational Guidance Counseling and utilizes it to counsel students in many areas such as their academic choices, study skills, time management, personal relationships, and stressors, to name a few. The Student Success Coordinator also collaborates with professors in supporting students with their course work.
Another option is for students who screen positive for depression and anxiety to go through a free depression/anxiety outpatient program, paid for by Weimar University. This program has been shown to produce a significant and positive clinical response to a super majority of participants. If specialized counseling is deemed necessary by the Student Success Coordinator, a referral is made to an appropriate professional counselor on or off campus for multiple sessions, if necessary, which is also paid for by Weimar University. Several students who have utilized these services have expressed their sincere gratitude for the help they received. One student stated “There is no way I could have paid for this outpatient program myself, and to have it on campus was so convenient. Thank you Weimar for sponsoring me through this program that has worked in improving my mental health.”
In addition, Weimar students have better access to the residential Depression and Anxiety Recovery Program, which produces results superior to usual psychiatric care and traditional counseling. During this program brain biochemistry, genetics, epigenetics, adverse childhood and adult experiences, numerous physical factors, toxins, hormonal, nutrient, and medical tests, etc. are evaluated and addressed so no stone is left unturned in finding and treating the cause of the student’s mental health challenges.
As you continue to prayerfully consider the future, be assured that at Weimar University the health of students, staff, and patients is highly valued; and, beginning on campus “to heal a hurting world” continues to be our mission.
** If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms here are some links to help even before arriving on the Weimar University campus.