Establishing healthy mental health habits in college for future career | Bismarck State College

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Establishing healthy mental health habits in college for future career

Posted: Aug 29 2023
Three agriculture students, two male and one female with a female agriculture instructor in a green house.
It’s a new year, and Fall semester is in full swing at Bismarck State College (BSC). That means campus is bustling with new students who are ready to dive into their studies and prepare for their future careers. But the start of the academic year doesn’t just bring fresh faces. For students, it also means new experiences and challenges, which can lead to new stressors. And, if left unchecked, that stress can turn into anxiety or depression. 

According to BSC’s mental health counselor, Camille Gebur, “For students, the demands of day-to-day life combined with pursuing their education, balancing relationships and trying to maintain jobs to financially support their education can exacerbate any preexisting mental health issues. As students pursue their educational journey, many are acclimating to a new physical environment, new social standards, and new demands to navigate finances as well as independently manage their time and home environment. Additionally, the fear of failure can be daunting and debilitating for some.”

In an article recently published on the FarmProgress website by BSC agriculture instructor Harlee Kilber, she discusses how farming is one of the most stressful and dangerous occupations in the United States. Like college students who are impacted by a barrage of different academic and social factors, farmers are also impacted by a myriad of stressors—everything from weather patterns to financial issues. However, according to Kilber, with the right plan and tools, anxiety and depression can be put to rest before it becomes an issue.

Plan when you can to beat stress

Whether you’re a farmer or a college student (or anyone dealing with stress), you probably know that some stressors are outside of our control, like the weather or a big assignment. However, according to Kilber, one of the most effective things you can do to get on top of potential stress is planning ahead. Kilber suggests:
  • Reducing the pile-up of too many stressful events by planning and not procrastinating
  • Planning priorities by determining what needs to be done today and what can wait until tomorrow.
  • Saying no to extra commitments.
  • Identifying stressors and determining which of those you can change and which you can be at peace with.
  • Switching your way of thinking from worrying to problem-solving.
  • Setting realistic goals and expectations.
  • Remembering it is not a sign of weakness to ask for help.
According to Gebur, another way to plan ahead is to “create a schedule of obligations to maximize available time and being intentional with allocated time for homework, obligations and personal care. Intentionality with time allows you to be proactive and utilize available free time for self-care or leisure activities, which are important for stress reduction and quality of life.”

Adopt a healthy habit of checking in with yourself

Planning ahead is just one tool in a good mental health toolbox. According to Kilber, it is also important to do a self-check using stress-relieving techniques such as:
  • Take breaks when you start to feel worked up.
  • Calm down by taking three deep breaths.
  • Relax your body and mind by doing some stretches.
  • Listen to soothing music or read a book before bed to unwind from the day.
  • Get enough sleep every night.
  • Think positively and find humor in life.
  • Find someone to talk to. This can be a friend, co-worker, spouse, etc., to talk through your worries and frustrations. It is never good to bottle up emotions.
“It’s also important that you use resources available to you. This will make you more likely to manage stress better as you have support and won’t feel isolated in your challenges. This could be tutoring, mental health counseling or even communicating with professors regarding absences in advance,” said Gebur.

If students can learn these skills and other habits such as self-advocacy, prioritizing self-care, reaching out to talk and learning that it’s okay to make mistakes, they will be able to tap into these habits when their future careers, like farming and producing, get demanding.

BSC mental health resources

BSC offers free and confidential counseling year-round to students in person or via telehealth.  The counseling center is open Monday- Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Students can schedule appointments via phone 701-224-5752 or email bsc.counseling@theresnoplacelikevienna.com.

The Mystic Advising Career and Counseling Center also hosts a variety of mental health events throughout the school year to promote self-care and stress reduction and to remind students of the resources on campus. This year, the MACC is launching a Student-Led Support Group, Mystics Help Mystics, for students to build a sense of community on campus with their peers and be able to connect to attend events, talk about stressors, or make new friends as they begin or return to BSC.

If you are feeling stressed, depressed or having thoughts of suicide
  • Call 2-1-1, the statewide 24-hour crisis intervention hotline.
  • Call or text 9-8-8, National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
  • Text “Hopeline” to 741741, National Suicide Hopeline Network.
  • Find Mental Health America resources at mhanational.org/live-b4stage4
For more information regarding the effects of stress, anxiety and depression on farm workers, read Harlee Kilber’s full article, Look in mirror to find most important farm asset.