First year students: Prioritize your mental health

For thousands of seasoned Longhorns who returned to campus this past week, reacclimating to the pace of UT life required only minor adjustments — scaling back on Netflix and waking up before noon. 

Things aren’t quite that simple for incoming freshmen. In addition to navigating move-in and the maze-like buildings covering this massive campus — all alongside peers they hardly know — these new students are grappling with how to live away from home, succeed as a full-time student, form new friendships and adjust to life in Austin. 

According to research from the World Health Organization, approximately 21% of freshman college students worldwide struggle with depression. One in every three freshmen will experience depressive symptoms. 

For many freshmen, this is the first time the intersecting responsibilities of school, social life and taking care of oneself falls squarely on their shoulders. Amid adjusting to all these changes, mental health has a
tendency to go on the back burner.

Mental well-being is important, as much as assignments, joining student organizations and keeping up with your friends. There are resources all around you at UT, in your peers and professors, in campus resources like the Counseling and Mental Health Center and in student groups like the UT National Alliance on Mental Illness. You can also help yourself by prioritizing self-care. UT will be your home for the next four years — you deserve to feel supported here. 

In this forum, UT alumna Viviana Rocha recalls her struggle with depression during her first two years at UT and how she found help, graduated in 2015 and went on to graduate school. 

Psychology senior and UT NAMI member Alexis McDonald reassures freshmen that feelings of loneliness are normal and advises students to put themselves first.

As always, if you have thoughts on this topic or any other, please feel free to reach out to us at [email protected]