Mental Health Assistance in Communities that Reduce University Crime and Anti-Social Behavior

University is a wonderful time for youth to come of age in a new environment, allowing for opportunities in growth, experimentation, interests, and new friendships. However, for some students, university can be a culture shock, and adjusting to a new environment, a first experience of imposing one’s own rules and boundaries, and a first step outside of a childhood community of family and friends, can be a challenge. While many youngsters thrive in university, for others, the shock leads to social isolation and they may find it difficult to find friends and build a community.

Students may struggle with self-motivation and an educational workload that they are unfamiliar with. All of this can lead to newfound mental health issues, which then can lead to anti-social behavior and crime. Therefore, mental health resources within the community must be at the forefront. For many students, having peers who will reach out to offer friendship, assistance, and guidance, is enough to keep mental health struggles at bay. These can take the form of peer residential assistants, teaching assistants, or leaders of social activities. If these peers are taught to spot students who may be struggling, they may provide the support that isolated youths need to get back on track. They can be trained to act as first interventionists – less intimidating that superiors or authorities – when they note that a student may be engaging in anti-social behavior or criminal activities.

Professors, coaches, and other university staff must also be trained and encouraged to not just fulfill their educational duties, but to be aware of student needs and offer time and attention when the students struggle. Mentoring is vital, and if mental health intervention is needed, these elders can act as interventionists. Finally, mental health services must be easily accessible, available, and affordable on campus, and universities must act to reduce social stigma around students’ access to aid.

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