Five-week breaks vital

Between the classes, work, homework, sports and extra-curricular activities, where do college students find time to deal with mental health issues and stress?

It is a struggle that many college students face every year returning back to college.

Castleton University and other Vermont State Colleges system have designed a system that helps college students cope with stress and mental health by giving colleges students one week off every five weeks. This week is loosely referred to by students as suicide prevention week.

But the real question is: do students actually find this time useful and effective for the right reasons?

Elise Magro, a freshman at Castleton University who also plays on the women’s basketball team, was quick to say “yes.”

“I think suicide prevention week is useful because it is hard for freshman to transition into a big change like college and even a week off can help people rest,” she said.

Being a freshman in college can be the hardest because of all the changes and living in a new environment.

These breaks give freshmen the chance to go home several times during the school year and allows them to relax and to adjust to all of the huge new changes within their life.

Tommy Baillie, a sophomore at Castleton University who lives off campus, also believes that freshman year these breaks were very useful.

“College is a very fast-paced moving environment and is overwhelming at times. These breaks give me on opportunity to catch up on all of my homework and allow me to feel more prepared,” Baillie said.

But many colleges don’t do suicide prevention breaks, including the University of Vermont.

Isabelle Gulick, a UVM sophomore who studies elementary education with a minor in special education, wishes it did.

“Suicide prevention weeks would help my mental stability and also improve my work ethic and the quality of my work,” she said.

Suicide is a problem that college students have been facing for years.

According to the American College Health Association, suicide rates between the ages 15-24 have tripled since the ‘50s.

Suicide has become the second most common cause of death among college students.

Studies show students are struggling with living with new people, being away from family and friends, stress, anxiety, personal issues and time management issues.

All of these factors can lead to detrimental outcomes.

The hope for these breaks every five weeks is to decrease those numbers.

Castleton also focuses on other aspects that help students also during the school year be able to handle the stress and anxiety, including having the therapy dogs come in on Thursday and also having the Wellness Center on campus offers therapy to students.

Colleges are starting to develop in a way that is more understanding toward students with mental health issues or struggling within all different issues.

The first break begins next week, and students say they’re ready.

“I started a countdown about a week ago and I’m excited to say I only have a week left til I can finally relax!” said sophomore Ashley Cassarino.

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