Mental Health “The Michigan Difference”

Mental Health “The Michigan Difference”

First, I want to say that there isn’t really a single cause for mental health issues, so it’s pretty hard to establish any sort of causal relationship between the the things that the University of Michigan is doing as the mental health outcomes of our student. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be doing more, just that it’s pretty much impossible to measure the job that we are doing because there are so many factors involved.

While treatment is very important, prevention should be the goal in any illness, and mental illness should be no different. Similarly to above, there really isn’t a particular way to prevent mental illness. However, I believe that a good way to lower the rates as a population would be to make our population healthier. A healthier population would experience greater physiological advantages, as well as be less stressed. The best ways to make our population healthier, in my opinion, are through healthier eating, sleeping, and exercise. To improve our eating the dining hall would simply need to provide more healthy options.

People will tell you that you can eat healthy at the dining hall. This is largely true. However, eating healthy at Mojo Dining Hall is terrible. I came here expecting to continue eating healthy, after eating healthy at my home using cooking to propel my diet. When I first got here I realized that to consistently eat healthy I would have to eat a salad or sandwich every meal to continue to eat healthy. Breakfast is the worst, really all you can eat is eggs, plain greek yogurt, and fruit. Everything else is high in saturated fat, simple sugar, or crazy salty.¬†Unless you order an omelet, there really isn’t a consistent way to get vegetables. To make things worse, most people don’t understand what is good for them, and what is bad for them. For example, there’s this idea that yogurt is really good for you, and even worse that vanilla yogurt is “plain” yogurt. Yogurt is supposed to be good for you because of good bacteria that help your digestive system. Because of this, plain greek or normal yogurt is fine for you. However, vanilla yogurt is vanilla and not plain yogurt because they add a ton of simple sugar to it to make it taste good, plain yogurt actually tastes even worse than plain greek yogurt. Simple sugar spikes your insulin and makes you store that energy as fat. Some of the foods are disguised as being healthy. The turkey burgers there have like 1000 mg of sodium per burger. The FDA has that as about 87% of your daily value of sodium. People think they’re eating something good for them while there heart is exploding.

Sleeping problems are huge here too because our workloads are ri-dunk-u-lus. That’s hard to fix. To fix our exercise problems, they ought to give gyms more hours and , more importantly, find a way to make gyms less intimidating for people who don’t live there. I honestly think it’s hilarious when some dude yells while pulling 600 lbs, but it scares a lot of people who believe they will be judged at the gym. If we could fix those issues, more people could have lower stress during the day and just be healthier in general.

We are doing some things well. There are many organizations and events that can get you involved here. Some help you make connections, while some strive to actually educate people on their health. I know I’ve been bombarded by wellness emails since I got here, partly because of HSSP. I have to believe that some people understand what’s out there.

To those responding, I ask what we can do to prevent issues because in America we are far to often caught in treating the problem instead of finding a solution.

9 thoughts on “Mental Health “The Michigan Difference”

  1. I 100% agree with you, especially about the fact that the dining hall does not serve enough healthy options. When I tried to eat healthy it did not last more than 3 days because I was eating the same food over and over. Also, they’re always serving desserts that are so tempting to eat it is just hard to avoid. As you mentioned, a solution has to be found rather than just treating the problem. I think if as a whole population we stand together to make healthy eating more affordable than other options more people can afford to eat healthy. Not only is eating healthy good for your overall physical being but also your mental health.

  2. I completely agree that we should work harder to prevent mental health issues from occurring and that a huge part of preventative measures is to be physically healthy. However, I believe that health is a very broad term, and can be affected in many ways. For instance, specific aspects of the healthcare system and the education system can be adjust to improve mental health. For instance, schools can work to make classes more enjoyable or offer more of a variety of different classes, which can make it easier for a student to find something he or she is passionate about. Moreover, having an general awareness about mental health is an effective way to improve the mental health of those around us. Often, many people are unaware when they accidentally offend someone else or instigate some negative feelings. We should all be mindful of others and be cautious about what we say when we speak.

  3. I couldn’t agree more on the concept that mental health can not be narrowed down to one or two causes because there are multiple. Also, the point made about how simply living healthier lives (eating better, sleeping enough, etc.) will improve mental health immensely. If you think back to even just 30 years ago, so many less kids had “ADHD” than today because there were less distractions (less technology) and today prescribing a kid with ADHD has become so inflated. Not saying some of these kids don’t have mental health issues, but it is because of the new age technology and all the other distractions in their life and that develops in their adulthood as well. If people simply step back and ensure that they live healthy lives with minimal distractions I am willing to bet that the number of people with mental health issues will drop. Now, having said that I also do recognize the fact that stress in areas like college campuses can be prevalent and always has been. In fact, I would argue that it is more stressful to be a college student now that ever before because of the fact that now it is nearly impossible to get a good job without a college degree. In terms of treatment for stress I again allude to the idea of healthy lifestyle: make sure you manage time, sleep well, eat well, and don’t be too caught up in the school work that you have no friends. Stress is natural, and so should the “cure” for it.

  4. I believe that although the University has good resources, there is very little discussion about the topic of mental health issues themselves. The only time it is brought up is during mental health awareness week, or in special, exclusive lectures such as the one that we had on Thursday. By not having consistent discussion, mental illnesses/problems continue to be stigmatized. Furthermore, in the event that an individual is facing mental health issues and is seeking professional help, if there is no normal discussion about mental problems amongst students to begin with, they may feel hesitant and nervous to reach out. Furthermore, they probably won’t know where they can get access to proper resources. I’m not saying that we need to always be talking about depression and other problems, but rather, it would be nice if we began by having instructors take more mindful actions to acknowledge the notion of mental wellbeing (ie. meditating in the beginning of class).

  5. Although being physically healthy can lead to better mental health, I do not think you are really grasping what someone with mental illness goes through. Just last Friday I sought treatment for the first time and I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and depression. I have just started medications to not only help with the anxiety, but also with sleep. I have always struggled with my weight since I was younger, but when my anxiety emerged the struggle became even more difficult. When I am stressed or having an attack I tend to overeat as a result. As for sleep, I can go to bed as early as I want but still not be able to sleep. When I lay down at night my mind replays everything that happened that day and I go over every single conversation wondering what I could have done differently. I overanalyze everything and want to fix things that are out of my control. This continues throughout the night as I wake up every couple hours. Exercise is related to better mental health and honestly I feel a lot better after I do it. For me, its not so much the fear of judgement I face, but actually being able to get out of bed to go to the gym. With my anxiety and depression leaving my room is a struggle; I would rather just lay there and not have to move or do anything. So while you bring up some good points please consider that physical health can be near impossible when you are dealing with mental health problems for some.

  6. I agree with you that in order to solve the problems regarding mental illnesses, we need to begin by learning how to take care of ourselves better such as having a proper diet, exercising regularly, and having adequate time to sleep. However, with our busy lifestyles nowadays, it can be very hard to do so, especially for those who are diagnosed with a mental illness and still have to endure the stress of college. I also think that it is very important to keep in mind that certain psychiatric illnesses can be heritable so prevention may not be as effective for some individuals, and that is why I believe that it is equally as important to have treatment programs as programs aimed for prevention purposes. To solve the problem, we need to conquer the problem from both sides to ensure that people can benefit from them depending on their mental conditions.

  7. Jordan, I agree with you when you say that we should improve our physical health in order to improve our mental health. Certainly, when people feel corporeally robust, they also feel mentally sound. Another important facet of mental health, I believe, is the spectrum of emotions we all feel on a daily basis. Certain events trigger certain emotions, both positive ones such as joy and negative ones such as sorrow and fear. Emotions are natural, but when negative ones start to build up they cause stress and negatively effect mental health. I believe that college students should be encouraged to share their emotions and get what’s troubling them off their chest more. When students can learn to do this, it prevents the build up of stress and improves mental health. Just as bolstering physical health can prevent mental health issues, the same can be said for emotional health.

  8. I completely agree with your statement about there not being a single factor in determining mental health. That’s definitely true and very important to keep in consideration. I think it’s also important to consider that we don’t fully understand the factors that we do know are related to mental health. You mentioned a few aspects like sleep and diet. Those are definitely very important, but those may play bigger parts in some people’s mental health than others. Each individual has a unique situation when it comes to mental health, and in my own experience it takes some trial and error to figure out what kind of balance you need to find in your life.

  9. Very well explained and thought out post Jordan, huge props for nailing a hard topic like mental health. I totally agree that overall physical health of someone can greatly improve your mental health, I would even go as far to say that mental health is declining among our generation due to rising obesity rates (I cannot prove this, but I’m sure if research was or has been done, it would correlate with my point). Eating healthy is a chore here and it shouldn’t have to be. Being one of the various student workers at the dining hall, I know that the staff and I try our very best to provide the healthiest options that taste good and have variety but the reality is that 1) people here do not want to eat healthy, which sounds messed up but it’s true. The amount of people requesting things like ‘chicken tenders’ and ‘fried foods’, etc. is insanely high (Bursley had so many requests for chicken tenders they serve them almost 3 times a week now and people still complain they aren’t served enough). 2) Budget, it’s hard to please everyone with super high quality food (not necessarily organic) and be able to cook it on a massive scale (i.e. for about 1000-1500+ people a day). 3) lots of money is not spent on high quality food due to the amount of food wasted every day at the dining halls. If you have never been back in dishroom you really have no idea how much food is wasted at Mojo, it’s terrible how much food is wasted here when people in our country are starving. So while I do agree that healthy eating would make our mental health much better, I unfortunately think it is unrealistic that MDining will provide better quality and healthier food. Lastly in regard to exercise and being intimidated at the various facilities around campus, I think there needs to be more classes or advertising for students who are looking to get in workout but do not know specifically how they should schedule and create a routine to seek out help from trained and certified employees from those facilitates (like a personal trainer). People too often look to the ‘burn fat with this one easy tip’ adverts online or take advice from Instagram models who are really unqualified to train or instruct someone. Places like the CCRB need to make it a much more welcoming and encouraging environment, or else no one will want to go there to workout. Bottom line, Mental health and Physical health go hand in hand, awesome post Jordan, love to see stuff like this:)

Leave a Reply