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.

Important Habits of Successful Students and Successful People

Student reading under tree

What habits could help you be a successful student?

People want to succeed in school, and in life.  But what are some key elements that lead to success?  What steps can you take this semester to be highly successful?

Stephen R. Covey(1), the author of the classic bestseller, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People ® , states that there are, you guessed it, 7 important habits that can make you successful (each step is a chapter):

1. Be Proactive 

Your choices are the most important factor in achieving your desired outcomes/goals.  With every choice, try to ask yourself if you are making decisions that move you closer or away from your desired goals. (Example, how does choosing to unhealthy food fit with your goal of better health? Or how does choosing to not get enough sleep fit with your goal of doing well in school? What can you do differently?)

2. Begin with the End in Mind

Successful people think about goals (Examples: better grades, better health, friendships, etc.) and write them down. They keep them in a place where they can see them regularly (1 or more times per day). This helps your mind stay focused on step 1.

3. Put First Things First

Successful people do activities each day that are aligned with their goals. (e.g., are you studying effectively, are you eating healthy and exercising regularly? Did you reach out to a friend today? etc.).  This habit involves action steps towards your goal.

4. Think Win-Win

Successful people think in terms of “win-win” solutions to their own problems and the problems of others.  (In the case above, you could study regularly with a friend or eat healthy/exercise regularly with a friend who also seeks to improve their health).

5. Seek First to understand, Then to be Understood

Successful people do not jump to their own conclusions without first without first trying to understand others in a non-judgmental way.  When approaching something upsetting or interpersonal problems, a good question to ask might be “Can you help me understand your thought process regarding that decision?” “What are other possible reasons for this situation?”.

6. Synergize

Effective teams can be more powerful than individuals working alone. For example, studies show that people who exercise with other people tend to have better outcomes than those who do not(2).

7. Sharpen the Saw

You are your greatest asset.

Regular maintenance and proper fuel with help your car to work efficiently and reliably, even avoid some problems.

Successful people take care of their mind and body, so that they are more likely to achieve success. This means proper stress/emotional management, adequate sleep, healthy eating habits, exercise/yoga/meditation, and avoidance of alcohol/drugs/excessive caffeine, spending time with others.  See previous blog posts regarding proper self-care and maintenance. Other examples include, exercise/nutrition/wellness coaching, study skills coaching, emotional management through counseling, etc.

These are only some of the habits. It may help to start thinking of achieving results as a process, and look for resources that can help you continuously improve.

Reference:

  1. Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People.
  2. Plante TG, et al. International Journal of Stress ManagementVol8No32001 Does Exercising with Another Enhance the Stress-Reducing Benefits of Exercise?

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.