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Depression Among International Students: What Can Your University Do When the Going Gets Tough?

Content Team
Content Team
Get essential news and information about international higher education from the i-STUDENTglobal content team.

The findings from Blue Cross Shield Association based on major depression diagnosis from 2013 to 2016 show that the rise of depression is highest among young people from 12 to 17 (increasing by 63%) followed by those between 18 to 38 (increasing by 47%).

This is caused by a variety of factors starting with the most obvious ones: culture shock and homesickness. Plus, the comfort provided by technological advancements has precipitated this.

Social networking sets the bar high not just for humankind as a whole, but for each of us individually. We set the bar high for ourselves, and today it’s harder than ever to reach our own expectations. When taking it to the extreme, social media is a station where we promote the best in ourselves, where we show only the greatness, the funniness and other positives stuff-ness about our lives. The grass is always greener on the other side, especially when the other side is just a login button away.

By spending so much time there, students are exposed to an involuntary life examination process where they end up comparing themselves to others (or, better said, to others’ photos).

That’s why it’s the university’s responsibility to take them outside (more often) and create extracurricular activities meant to:

  • First, help them get hands-on experience and put theory into practice
  • And, second, delve into the culture of the country, meet locals, and start seeing life as it is.

Having a strong student support service specifically dedicated to mental health issues should be first on every university’s to-do list.

So, when applying for a university, it’s good to make sure beforehand that they have in-house student psychologists ready to support you every step of the way. At all times.

After all, today’s reality is this: when you arrive in a new country to study, you are more likely to be exposed to exclusion from domestic students, locals or even uni staff altogether. The ideal environment is one where you feel welcome, safe and greeted with open arms by everyone, which is something universities have to treat as a top priority. A commitment to establish respect and inclusivity is paramount, and proving this through action is even more so.

Study abroad students should do their research thoroughly and always check whether their chosen university or college (if and how) integrates diverse cultures into their curriculum and is known for addressing any tensions that may arise along the way. You’ve probably noticed, it’s not a perfect world out there, but the university you pick has to do everything in its power to encourage you and your peers to make it better.