Solitude. As Oprah Winfrey stated, solitude is a vacation for the souls. As for a more scientific definition from psychology today: solitude is choosing to be alone. While alone one ponders upon, reflects, questions, and analyses themselves, and their way of life in a positive manner.
While learning about solitude, I was amazed at how beneficial solitude was for mental health. I had personally experienced it’s benefits last year when I would regularly escape the stress of university life in solitude. I did not know that I was being in a state of solitude. I was just doing what helped me grow, and gain a peace of mind.
This personal assessment and alone time improved me academically, emotionally, and socially. Unfortunately, I know, and have spoken to many other students on the University of Guelph Campus who like me struggle with mental illness. I also discovered from my research that mental illness is on the rise amongst university students in both Canada, and the United States. Mental illness for most university students begins in their first year, and worsen towards the end of their university years. After spending five years in university, and suffering from a mental illness, I am an evidence to this fact.
Nothing helped my mental illness more than being in a state of solitude. After going into a many states of solitude I became peaceful with myself, others, and my post-secondary education.Therefore I want other students to also benefit. I do not want them to regain their mental health after many years of suffering, like I did. I want them to regain their mental health right when it becomes infected in their first year of university. Therefore I want to urge universities to force their first year students to go into a state of solitude after their first semester in university. In order to force students, this one semester of solitude will be a requirement for their graduation.
Why First Year Students?
It is widely known that the first year of university is very challenging. According to McLean’s Magazine Homesickness, high academic expectations from parents, academic pressures at university, and the university social life causes many students to fall into depression. Unfortunately according these students lack coping skills, so 16% of students escape the pressure, and just drop out. Due social and family pressure 50% of these students stay in university, and spend their university years in a state of anxiety. To numb their depression 15% of depressed students cut, burn, and harm themselves. Then, 7% consider committing suicide, and 1% attempt committing suicide.
How Come they are not Getting Better?
Experts in McLean’s Magazine say some of these students have a history of depression, the others develop it in university. Another cause for this epidemic of mental illness amongst students is due to the students’ struggling to cope with a fast changing world, where they can not unplug, and can not relax.
Experts say overcoming emotional struggles of life requires a time for contemplation, mediation, reflection, self examinations, deep thought, and self observation. All of those can be achieved from being in a state of SOLITUDE. However students do not have time for solitude. When they are free from studying, they are busy listening to music, texting, or going on social media websites. As a result they do not have time for solitude.
Why Helping them is so Vital?
Since 2010 four students in Queens university, and six students in Cornell university have committed suicide. Worse just recently, a mentally ill university student, Elliot Rodger, went on a shooting rampage killing seven, and injuring thirteen innocent people.
Furthermore according to the TEDTalk of a Ph.D, Clinical psychologist Meg Jay, the twenties are the most important time period in an individual’s life since these ten years set the foundation for the future of a person both financially, and emotionally. University students are in their twenties, and therefore need as much help as they can get for bettering their future.
A Semester of Solitude
Student should be put in the solitude program in the winter semester of their first year. So when students enter school in september they will spend the fall semester on their own. During their fall semester they will shift into the university environment, struggle, procrastinate, fail, fall in love, have their heart broken, make a lot of mistakes, make bad decisions, become hopeless, and ultimately hit rock bottom after seeing that their fall semester grades are 10-60% lower than their high school grades.
Now these broken students who have fallen into depression, should not be allowed to drop out, or finish their degree in despair. Instead the university should stop everything, and enter the students into a semester solitude. While in the state of solitude the students will be deprived of all sorts of distractions such as WiFi, cell phones, internet, or computers. They will only be given some material to write with. Unlimited love and support will also be available to these students in case their mental illness requires counseling, and support.
Currently universities are not doing anything major to stop this epidemic of mental illness amongst students . They offer counselling services, but in some universities like Ryerson there is a two week waiting period to see someone. Two weeks is a long time for a mentally ill student who has so much on his/her plate.
The Benefits Solitude Will Bring
Psychologist, Dr. Sherrie Bourg Carter says being in solitude, alone with no distractions will allow the following to occur:
- The brain can relax and refresh, since it is not in constant use
- Being alone will allow one to discover themselves, and their goals in life as a result they will plan for their future, and make goals to achieve it
- Due to lack of distraction:
- Productivity will increases
- deep thoughts will occur
- people will solve their personal problems more effectively
I myself struggled with mental illness from my first year, until my fifth year. I did not even know that there was a place I could go for counseling since the university did not advertise anything. Then on my fifth year of university through solitude I found peace in my heart and mind. As a result I want my other fellow students to also benefit from solitude.I do not want a problem with solution to cause humanity so much pain.