9 ways that college students can meet people

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

Some people think that humans by nature are social beings. That we need some degree of social connection/interaction with others to maintain our own well-being, manage stress, happiness, and overall emotional health.

Each person may need to tailor the amount and type of social interaction based on their personality, needs, and available options.

Is there any research on social support and mental health of college students?

There are many studies, some of them have found the following:

  • In one study of college students, lower perceived social support was found to have a 6 fold increase in depression risk relative to higher perceived social support (1).
  • Another study found that peer support benefits mental health (2).
  • In another study, social support from family and friends jointly influenced about 80 % of the effect of life satisfaction and hopelessness on drinking alcohol (3).
  • Finally, a study of about 1200 students found that students with higher social support had better mental health (4).

What 9 possible ways for college students to meet people, deal with loneliness, and increase social support?

  1. Check out the OSU campus student organizations page for organizations such as Active Minds, Peers Reaching out, Boo-Radley and others.
  2. OSU-Rec Sports has various play options.
  3. Check out over 1300 different student organizations focused on different interests/hobbies
  4. Consider relevant courses based around sports, or other hobbies/interests.
  5. Volunteer opportunities at OSU: https://engage.osu.edu/for-alumni-and-friends/volunteer-opportunities.html
  6. Therapy treatment Groups at CCS
  7. Support Groups in the community: National alliance on Mental Illness, Hands On Central Ohio 211.
  8. There are pros and cons of social media and online support communities.
  9. https://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/college-resource-center/social-support-campus/

Any additional resources?

Think of current or past friendships, relationships, etc. that have been meaningful/supportive.  Can you think of a way to periodically connect with them in person, online or by phone?

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. Hefner, J., & Eisenberg, D. (2009). Social support and mental health among college students. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 79(4), 491-499. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0016918
  2. O’Connell MJ, Sledge WH, Staeheli M, Sells D, Costa M, Wieland M, Davidson L. Outcomes of a Peer Mentor Intervention for Persons With Recurrent Psychiatric Hospitalization. Psychiatr Serv. 2018 Apr 16:appips201600478. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201600478. [Epub ahead of print]
  3. Catie CW Lai and Cecilia MS Ma. The mediating role of social support in the relationship between psychological well-being and health-risk behaviors among Chinese university students. Health Psychology Open.  https://doi.org/10.1177/2055102916678106 First Published November 8, 2016
  4. Tahmasbipour, A. Taheri. A Survey on the Relation Between Social Support and Mental Health in Students Shahid Rajaee University. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences. Volume 47, 2012, Pages 5-9, ISSN 1877-0428, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.06.603.

 

Mental Health Benefits of Volunteering

“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.”  – Oscar Wilde (1)

For some people, this time of year marks the beginning of the holiday season.  This can involve giving and receiving gifts, time, generosity, and other practices.

While people may have heard about the benefits of altruism, what does the research say?

After looking 9631 papers, the authors(2,3) identified and reviewed 40 research studies looking at the impact of volunteering on physical and mental health of the volunteers.

Who were the participants? (2)

Participants varied in age, but reached several thousand across different types of studies (2).

What were the results? (2)

Volunteering had a favorable effect on depression, life satisfaction and well-being in the large cohort type studies with lengthy follow up (2; 4-8).

What are some caveats?

  • The exact relationship between health benefits and volunteering remains complex and many factors may be involved (3).
  • There are many types of volunteer activities.
  • Further research is needed to understand motivating factors, frequency, dose, type of volunteering, etc. that provides the most health benefits.

What are come campus resources on Volunteering?

How does volunteering impact you?  Can helping others help YOU feel better?

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. https://discovercorps.com/blog/50-inspirational-quotes-volunteering/
  2. Jenkinson CE, Dickens AP, Jones K, et al. Is volunteering a public health intervention? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the health and survival of volunteers. BMC Public Health. 2013;13:773. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-773.
  3. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/01/generosity-health_n_4323727.html
  4. Konrath S, Fuhrel-Forbis A, Lou A, Brown S: Motives for volunteering are associated with mortality risk in older adults. Health Psychol. 2012, 31: 87-96.
  5. Ayalon L: Volunteering as a predictor of all-cause mortality: what aspects of volunteering really matter?. Int Psychogeriatr. 2008, 20: 1000-1013.
  6. Harris AHS, Thoresen CE: Volunteering is associated with delayed mortality in older people: analysis of the longitudinal study of aging. J Health Psychol. 2005, 10: 739-752. 10.1177/1359105305057310.
  7. Jung Y, Gruenewald TL, Seeman T, Sarkisian C: Productive activities and development of frailty in older adults. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2010, 65B: 256-261. 10.1093/geronb/gbp105.
  8. Oman D, Thoresen CE, McMahon K: Volunteerism and mortality among the community-dwelling elderly. J Health Psychol. 1999, 4: 301-316.

Mental Health Benefits of Leisure Activities

The previous blog discuss stress management (1). Today’s post talks about the benefits of play and leisure activities on mental health.

A recent study of college students showed that academic stress was associated with negative emotion, and leisure activities engagement was associated with positive emotion (2).

A large scale study looked at impact on psychological and physical well-being from specific types of leisure activities (3).

What is leisure?

The study authors defined leisure as pleasurable activities that individuals engage in voluntarily when they are free from the demands of work or other responsibilities (2).

Who was studied (3)?

1399 individuals, 74% female, age = 19–89 years.

What was measured? (3)

  • Self-report measure (Pittsburgh Enjoyable Activities Test (PEAT))
  • Participation in ten different types of leisure activities (described below)
  • Measures of positive and negative psychosocial states.
  • Blood pressure
  • The stress hormone, cortisol (over 2 days), and other factors.

What were the results? (3)

Enjoyable leisure activities are associated with:

  • Lower levels of depression and negative affect
  • Improved positive, physical and psychosocial states

What are some types of leisure activities from the study (3)?

  • Spending quiet time alone
  • Spending time unwinding;
  • Visiting others
  • Eating with others
  • Doing fun things with others
  • Clubs/fellowship, and religious group participation;
  • Vacationing
  • Communing with nature
  • Sports
  • Hobbies

What are some caveats?

  • Compared to previous studies looking at single factors, this is a large scale study looking at many different leisure activities and its benefits on health and well being.
  • The study authors discuss the importance of healthy lifestyle habits (healthy eating habits, healthy exercise, relaxation skills, healthy sleep habits, etc.), avoiding harmful habits (smoking, drug use, excessive alcohol, etc); and leisure activities as tools to improve physical and emotional health (3).
  • This balance might vary from person to person.

Different people might benefit from different types of play. What type of play is best for you?

Are there any campus resources on play?

Any other useful resources on campus?

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/09/01/dealing-with-too-much-stress
  2. Zhang J, Zheng Y.  How do academic stress and leisure activities influence college students’ emotional well-being? A daily diary investigation.

    J Adolesc. 2017 Oct;60:114-118. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2017.08.003. Epub 2017 Aug 23.
  3. Pressman, S. D, et. al. Association of Enjoyable Leisure Activities With Psychological and Physical Well-Being.  Psychosomatic Medicine: September 2009 – Volume 71 – Issue 7 – pp 725-732 doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181ad7978