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.

 

Alcohol and Grades

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

Almost 2 out of 3 college students reported binge drinking of alcohol in the last 30 days (1).
Adults ages 18 to 29 years had the highest proportion of people with alcohol disorders (2).

In the United States, a standard drink is defined as (12):
• 12 ounces of beer with 5 percent alcohol content
• 5 ounces of wine with 12 percent alcohol content
• 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits with 40 percent alcohol content

What is high risk drinking?
High risk, heavy drinking, or binge drinking, defined as 5 or more drinks on one occasion, can impact academics (3, 4, 5).
It is also related to:
• Academic problems (6)
• Fewer study hours (5,7)
• Lower reported grades (8)

How does heavy drinking impact your academic performance?
• Frequent heavy drinking is related to:
• Increased sleepiness (4)
• Disrupted sleep (4)
• Disrupted learning (9)
• Disrupted memory (9)
• Increased social and emotional problems over time (10)
These factors might cause you to miss classes, deadlines, or perform poorly.

What is low risk drinking?

 

 

https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/How-much-is-too-much/Is-your-drinking-pattern-risky/Whats-Low-Risk-Drinking.aspx

Low risk DOES NOT mean no risk.
For some people a lower cutoff may be more beneficial.

Who should avoid alcohol?
It’s safest to avoid alcohol altogether if you are:
• Taking medications that interact with alcohol (11)
• Managing a medical condition that can be made worse by drinking (11)
• Underage (11)
• Planning to drive a vehicle or operate machinery(11)
• Pregnant or trying to become pregnant (11)
You should also avoid alcohol if you have a family history of addiction because of increased genetic risk of addiction.

Where can you learn more about alcohol?
How much is too much, strategies for cutting down, quitting can be found here:
https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/Thinking-about-a-change/
http://www.ccs.osu.edu/self-help/alcohol/
• Take the OSU Free Anonymous Mental health Screen

From what I have seen in practice and research, as we learn more about the impact of alcohol, the amount of alcohol that is considered safe continues to be lower than previously thought.

Are you regularly drinking too much alcohol? How is it impacting your academic, emotional and physical health?

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.  SAMHSA. 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Table 6.89B—Binge Alcohol Use in the Past Month among Persons Aged 18 to 22, \HWVGFGHNSDUH-DetTabs2014/NSDUH-DetTabs2014.htm#tab6-89b 

2. Turrisi R, Larimer ME, Mallett KA, Kilmer JR, Ray AE, Mastroleo NR, et al. A randomized clinical trial evaluating a combined alcohol intervention for high-risk college students. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2009;70:555–67.

3. El Ansari W, Stock C, Mills C. Is alcohol consumption associated with poor academic achievement in university students? Int J Prev Med (2013) 4(10):1175–88. 

4. Singleton RA, Jr, Wolfson AR. Alcohol consumption, sleep, and academic performance among college students. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2009;70:355–63. 

5. Wolaver AM. Effects of heavy drinking in college on study effort, grade point average, and major choice. Contemp Econ Policy. 2002;20:415–28.

6.  Wechsler H, Dowdall GW, Maenner G, Gledhill-Hoyt J, Lee H. Changes in binge drinking and related problems among American college students between 1993 and 1997. Results of the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study. J Am Coll Health. 1998;47:57–68. 

7. Webb E, Ashton CH, Kelly P, Kamali F. Alcohol and drug use in UK university students. Lancet. 1996;348:922–5. 

8. Engs RC, Diebold BA, Hanson DJ. The drinking patterns and problems of a national sample of college students. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education. 1996;41:13–33.

 9. Zeigler DW, Wang CC, Yoast RA, Dickinson BD, McCaffree MA, Robinowitz CB, et al. The neurocognitive effects of alcohol on adolescents and college students. Prev Med. 2005;40:23–32.

10. Crosnoe R, Benner AD, Schneider B. Drinking, socioemotional functioning, and academic progress in secondary school. J Health Soc Behav. 2012;53:150–64.

11. https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/How-much-is-too-much/Is-your-drinking-pattern-risky/Whats-Low-Risk-Drinking.aspx

12. The National Institute on alcohol abuse and alcoholism. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/collegefactsheet/Collegefactsheet.pdf

 

 

 

Poor sleep and poor grades might go together

College students might stay up late or have an erratic sleep schedule for a variety of reasons.

A recent study looked at the impact of sleep pattern on grades.

Who was studied? (1,2)

  • 61 undergraduate students at Harvard college
  • They were asked to keep a sleep diary for 30 days.

What did the investigators find? (1,2)

Compared to peers, students reporting irregular patterns of sleep and wakefulness had:

  • Lower grade point averages.
  • Delays in the times people went to bed and woke up compared to more normal sleep/wake times.
  • Upto 3 hour delay in melatonin (sleep related hormone) release compared to students with regularly scheduled sleep and wakefulness pattern.

What are some caveats?

  • Poor sleep can impact almost every aspect of health and many parts of brain functioning, including learning, remembering, mood, energy level, decision making, etc.
  • This is a small study and does not prove cause-and-effect (2).
  • Students with erratic sleep schedules ended up sleeping the same number of hours as those with a regular sleep schedule. (1,2).
  • Study participants might have an erratic sleep schedule for a variety of reasons.

What are some ways of improving sleep?

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests the following ways to improve sleep (3):

  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule.
  • Get up at the same time every day, even on weekends or during vacations.
  • Plan to get at least 7 hours of sleep.
  • Don’t go to bed unless you are sleepy.
  • If you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed.
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Use your bed only for sleep and sex.
  • Make your bedroom quiet and relaxing. Keep the room at a comfortable, cool temperature.
  • Limit exposure to bright light in the evenings.
  • Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Don’t eat a large meal before bedtime. If you are hungry at night, eat a light, healthy snack.
  • Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet.
  • Avoid consuming caffeine in the late afternoon or evening.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol before bedtime.
  • Reduce your fluid intake before bedtime.

Anything else?

  • Some people may need to eliminate caffeine or alcohol completely.
  • If you have to use electronics in the evenings, consider BLUEBLOCKERS.

Consider seeking professional help:

OSU Counseling and Consultation Service

OSU Wilce Student health center

https://ccs.osu.edu/self-help/sleep/

How is your sleep? How are your grades?

By R. Ryan 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. https://consumer.healthday.com/sleep-disorder-information-33/misc-sleep-problems-news-626/poor-sleep-habits-61-poor-grades-723563.html
  2. Phillips AJK, Clerx WM, O’Brien CS, et al. Irregular sleep/wake patterns are associated with poorer academic performance and delayed circadian and sleep/wake timing. Scientific Reports. 2017;7:3216. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-03171-4.
  3. http://www.sleepeducation.org/essentials-in-sleep/healthy-sleep-habits