Nov 6, 2019 in Health

Mental Health Issues on International Students

Mental health is one of the most less talked about conditions in the world. The mere mention of the term causes uproars from people who view mental illness, as well as other mental related conditions with discord. It could be because mental health is one of the most complex conditions that take a lot of time and effort to understand. It is because to understand mental health, you must have an understanding of the mind/brain. You should be able to notice what is wrong with the person by examining the mind, and that is why individuals such as neurologists and psychiatrists are the people best qualified to undertake it. 

People who suffer from mental related illnesses are often marginalized and secluded from the rest of the world. What people do not know is that individuals who suffer from mental health are usually not in control of their emotions and actions. The case is even worse for the individuals who cannot access the required health care and medication. In some instances, these individual are usually locked and chained to avoid them hurting themselves and others. However, in the previous years, scientists studying mental health have come up with new and innovative methods to help curb and find a cure for mental health. The essay shall explore what these individuals go through especially international students while they study abroad.

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There is no particular cause for mental illness however research has found out that mental illness can be brought about by three factors namely, Psychological, environmental and biological factors. Biological factors are usually found within the body. Some scholars argue that mental illness is hereditary that mean it is passed from one family member to another. It is probable that if one of your parents had a mental condition, one or two of their offspring would have the same condition. Therefore, if such a circumstance were to arise, it is necessary that the individual goes for a checkup at the nearest health facility. Infections can also cause mental illness. Some infections that are linked to mental illness, for example, there is a condition that is known as pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder or PANDA, in short, which has been linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder in children. Infections commonly affect the brain or nerve cells found within the brain.

Accidents can also cause mental illness. For example, if a person is involved in a severe road accident, they can experience some damage to the head and consequently the brain, and it can cause severe brain damage. Serious damage to the frontal lobe can cause some serious detriments to the nerves and consequently other parts of the body. Babies are also at risk of getting serious mental conditions while they are delivered. For example, the loss of oxygen at the time of birth has been attributed to the cause of autism. However, mental illness can also be caused by drug use. The abuse of hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine can cause brain damage. 

In the case of international students, they suffer more since they are of different origins. For example, the local students get preferences in all aspects be it in job creation to health care.  Foreign students have a hard time as it is because of the language barrier as well as the culture shock. They do not know where to go in times of needs and in some cases it can lead to depression. Depression is also a major contributor to the development of mental conditions. In some cases, extreme depression can cause mental instability. Some foreign students often get sucked up by the cultures that they encounter. In some cities, for example, Amsterdam, marijuana is legal. It can cause many young minds to wander off and abuse the drug that is an inhalant. It hinders blood flow to the brain, which needs about 20% of all the oxygen we breathe Legalization of marijuana is considered a good thing in countries and cities such as Amsterdam, Jamaica. However, international students who hail from countries where marijuana is illegal, they are tempted to abuse this drug. Therefore, this has increased the number of international students who are suffering from mental illness due to abuse of marijuana.

Peer pressure can also lead to mental disorders. It is because schools abroad are like a popularity contest. A lot of bullying goes on in learning institutions, and if left unchecked, the affected ones can fall into a deep depression and if not treated can lead to mental instability. Therefore, due to freedom that students get in international universities, most students tend to abuse their freedom. As a result, some may end up depressed and become mentally ill.

International students may also experience depression that arises from homesickness or frustrations with the United States Customs. Different cultures address mental health differently. Some accept individuals suffering from the disease while others tackle it with hushed voices and often do not interact with the affected individuals. International students often feel alone especially if they have no family connections in the foreign country. If they were to suffer from mental instability, the lack of compassion from a familiar face might bring about thoughts of suicide. The customs that are set by the universities are good; however, those who are not used to them become depressed. Therefore, they may end up having mental condition.

A teacher should look out for the signs that indicate that an international student might be suffering from deteriorating mental health. They include changes in appearance, declining grades, missing from classes, change in behavior and social isolation. Sporadic communication patterns might also be an indicator that a health crisis is imminent. Change in appearance can be either for the better or for worse. For example, if the said student was very dress and appearance conscious and then all of a sudden their mannerisms and dressings change all of a sudden, there is a reason to be concerned. It is because the student might be going through some stuff, and it is best that they see a specialist. When a bright young student starts getting low grades, the teacher should talk to them to find out what might be bothering them. The teacher should do something or better yet seek the advice of a professional such as the school`s guidance counselor. The same can be said when a good obedient starts skipping classes for no apparent reason. It could be for a different variety of reasons, but the teacher should investigate to find out the matter. An abrupt change in the student`s behavior might be due to a number of reasons namely the rudeness displayed by teenagers when they hit puberty, usage of drugs or a decline in the students mental health. Therefore, the student should meet with a specialist and come up with a way to help them. When a student who was very jovial and cheerful all of a sudden becomes secluded, sad and moody, it is a clear sign that something is wrong with them. Therefore, they should seek help from the relevant authorities available to them. Lack of monitoring the behavioral changes of students in colleges and universities has therefore contributed to the increase of the number of international students suffering from mental illness.

Since the majority of international students have no family abroad, there should be an agency or authority in every country that is set up to look after their welfare. For example, the New Mexico State University`s Office of International and Border Programs (IBP) oversees the welfare of the incomings as well as the outgoing international students. Mental illness requires ongoing treatment, and it does not discriminate as to whom it affects. It can affect anybody from any age group to gender. In the last two decades, a lot of time and research has gone into finding a cure for mental illness. As a result, majority of the mental conditions can be treated with one or a combination of available treatments. These treatments include psychotherapy, group therapy, medication, and specific therapies. Specific therapies include behavior modification as well as cognitive-behavior therapy. Individuals who suffer from mental illness need not feel the stigma from some people from the society, since they are also fellow human beings who deserve our love and consideration. Therefore, lack of agency in states and countries that help international students to deal with homesickness has also increased the number of these students who suffers from mental illness.

Since mental health issues are rampant among students, there are a number of steps that can be employed to help the relevant authorities detect the early signs of mental illness before it is too late. The academic staff should receive the necessary training on recognizing, preventing as well as addressing the mental issues that plague the students, as well as themselves. Majority of the teaching staff receive little or no training at all. It can make them ill-prepared and equipped to handle such cases. Teachers in training institution should be trained how to handle students with depression. However, due to inadequate training, they do not understand how students with mental problems are handled. For this reason, the cases of students suffering from mental illness are on the rise.

Students are not the only ones who are under the threat of suffering from mental illness, and teachers are as well. The endless hours they spend teaching, grading papers and conducting exams also take a toll on them, and it can lead to anxiety, as well as depression. They need to help each other overcome these difficult and turbulent times. A good teacher is the one that goes to class and is only interested in the academic aspect of the student’s life, but a great teacher takes time to know each student at a personal level. It is beneficial because it will be easy for the teacher to spot any changes in the student’s grades, appearance, and behavior. Academic institutions should incorporate programs such as yoga and mindfulness techniques into their curriculum. Yoga helps free the mind as well as makes an individual feel at peace. It also helps the body relax and increase the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. 

Therefore, institutions need to develop mental health outreach programs that target specific at-risk student groups to increase the utilization of treatment. Studies have shown that students from different backgrounds approach the subject of mental illness with mixed reactions. Students need teachings on how to approach this sensitive topic without offending anyone. They also need to be taught on the sensitivity of mental illness and the need to express themselves if any one of them is affected. Learning institutions should also help in raising the awareness on the impact of anxiety and depression and how their ability to learn, function and succeed. The students should feel fee talk to anyone from the teaching, as well as the subordinate staff or maybe to a friend. If they feel shy to talk about it, they can write to the particular person in the hope of remaining anonymous although it is not encouraged. Institutions should also strengthen the coordination between their counseling and wellness departments with the student-run mental health interest groups and initiatives. The successful coordination between these two bodies will help bring about the awareness of the risks and the treatments of mental health.

In conclusion, mental health, if left unchecked, could result in fatalities such as suicide. People should also stop stigmatizing the individuals who are affected by mental illness, and this can only be done through awareness programs. These programs should be conducted by individuals who understand the condition such as doctors and affected individuals. They have to be equipped with all the necessary information pertaining mental health. The first major step to recovery for a person suffering from mental illness is first to accept him/her. This acceptance will help the individual come to terms with their condition. In addition, it is imperative that the affected individual receives the necessary health care so that they can resume their lives as usual.

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