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.