University is a challenging time in any student’s life. Many have tons of readings to get through, assignments to submit, internships to apply for all the while keeping their social life afloat. For people studying abroad, I feel like the stress is two fold. You have the regular strain from college work and then you have the added pressure of living in a new country. Yes, we chose this life. Yes, we do enjoy it. However, there is more to it than meets the eye.
There are very few studies that have been carried out to highlight the issue of mental health among international students. This goes a long way to show that this is an issue hardly talked about.
Here are a few reasons why international students are susceptible to mental illnesses:
1. Many Come From Societies Where Mental Illness Is Regarded As A Myth
In African societies, mental illness is regarded as curses and are rarely talked about. Many people also assume that when you are depressed you can just snap out of it and get better. When a student comes from such a background, they may not even know that they are sick. This makes it hard for them to even seek help.
2. Difficulty Coping With Culture Shock
Getting used to a new language, new education system, new culture, the list is endless. These factors make international students susceptible to mental illness. I know of a friend who had to go for therapy because they were finding it had to cope with their new country. Many people, however, do not have this privilege as seeking medical help is quite expensive abroad.
3. Being Away From Family & Friends
Not many students are privileged enough to have relatives or friends from home in their host country. This often makes one feel home sick or isolated. There is also the fact that a lot of times you are worried about people back home and how they are doing. In addition to this, you know that sometimes your family withholds information about happenings at home just to keep you from worrying.
4. Pressure From Home
You are in a new country and your parents probably made a huge investment to get you there. This comes with the huge responsibility. You hope not letting them down. Even if you do not like the country or you are suffering, you think of how much your parents went through to get you there that you prefer to keep it all in and push through.
5. Financial Strain
For some wild reason, people assume just because you are studying abroad you are swimming in money. Contrary to this, living abroad is quite expensive and most students have to work to earn extra money. Also, not every country offers students work permits and many have to work illegally leading to exploitation in form of long work hours and poor pay.
This article was written by Capital Campus Correspondent Garnet Achineg’.