How Has Your Mental Health Changed?

We asked our writers to talk about how their mental health has changed over the last semester, year, and 5 years. Each response is listed by author with all three answers.

This is my first year of college, and I really learned a lot about dealing with stress and adapting to change.

Last summer was amazing, and I was so happy! I'm hoping this summer keeps with the pattern.

I've changed a lot since my freshman year of high school (thankfully), and most of that has to do with learning about how to take care of myself mentally.

-Victoria Helrigel

My mental health has probably gone downhill this past semester, as it does most second semesters. Between the weather, a harder course load and being away from my family, this semester has been a challenge.

This year has been a happy year. I adjusted to college pretty well and have made some great friends that help me recognize when my mental health needs to be addressed.

Overall, I think my mental health has been pretty consistent in that it fluctuates immensely throughout the year. I know winters are rough for me and falls always feel like new beginnings. Now that I know more what to expect, I have been able to prepare myself better for my different stages of mental health.

-Molly Efros

I have had a really hard semester as so many things have happened that have tested my mental health but all of these things have helped me open up to my friends about my struggles which has deepened my friendships.

This past year has helped me learn to go with the flow more. I now know it’s ok if I don’t get the best internship or don’t get a good grade in a class because life goes on.

Over the last 5 years I have learned that each and every one has their own struggles which is why it is important to treat everyone with respect and kindness.

-Ashley Bond

Over the last semester, I've been traveling more than usual which means that I haven't been able to commit as much time to my mental health organizations as usual. My personal mental health feels great, but in a way I feel detached from my community which I've relied on so much.

I've grown to be more comfortable with who I am. As a college student, I often feel pressure to go out or be extremely social, but I've come to accept that socializing can be exhausting and sometimes I just need alone time to recharge. The best part is that I'm okay telling people that now!

If you had asked me five years ago about my mental health, I genuinely don't know if I would have had any sort of answer. I rarely discussed mental health issues with close family or medical professionals, let alone friends or acquaintances. I wasn't diagnosed until three years ago, and being diagnosed and treated has made such a huge difference on my life.

-Anna Learis

I feel as if my mental health has improved this semester as I have found new and healthier ways to cope. I have also been more social and made more friends which has helped grow my support network.

My mental health has definitely improved in the past year. I had a very rough freshman year mentally and emotionally and hard a hard time being away from my family and making friends, but in the past year have established a place for myself here at U of M, both socially and academically.

My mental health has also improved dramatically from where I was 5 years ago at this time. 5 years ago I was a rising sophomore in high school, and my family and I were preparing to move cross-country to California. I had a very hard time with the moving process and became distant from my dad as I blamed him for uprooting us and making us move, but have since rebuilt our relationship and have established a home in the Bay Area.

-Sydney Kim

I have become much more resilient! Before this semester, I was at the mercy of the difficulties in my life but through reframing my perspective and allowing myself some self-love I now bounce back quickly.

I've overcome the jolt of transitioning to college and the heavy depression that came with it for me. This was something that consumed me at one point and I had little control over, but I have come to learned to cope and am the healthiest I have ever been.

I've gained a greater sense of self and feeling of place in this world. I remember at 15 I felt so lost and anomalous, but through the course of 5 years I have amassed more people in my life who make me feel a little less alone in who I am.

-Alaina Schallwig

My mental health has never been better! Aside from the stress of my friends leaving me in less than a month, I have been having a great last semester.

Last year, my mental health was less ideal. The stress of figuring out an internship for the summer - and potentially the rest of my life - was definitely detrimental to the status of my mental health.

It has improved substantially over the last 5 years because I learned to cope with the change of losing the friends that had supported me throughout high school by building a new support system with my friends of the last four years.

-Jenie Li

Over the last semester, my mental health has improved drastically. I went from going to therapy twice a week, to once a week and now biweekly. I am starting to feel better and see the progress, which has felt amazing.

Over the last year mental health became even more salient in my life. I have started to understand the importance of truly taking care of myself more this year in various ways that has been so beneficial for me.

5 years ago I didn't even talk about mental health. In fact, I didn't know it existed. I have become aware and comfortable talking about my own mental health and have found communities that support me in that journey.

-Bekah Cone

This semester, I've taken more time for myself. First semester for me was really about other people and taking care of my friends' mental health and putting myself second. But this semester, I've realized that I should put myself first, not because I don't care about my friends, but because I matter just as much as they do.

Being a freshman, college just really opened my eyes to how mental health can change dramatically and how bad habits can become a lot worse under adverse conditions. It made mental health a lot more real for me. I realized that my friends have their own mental health problems that they have to deal with, and I don't have the benefit of face to face conversation when I want to help them. Just because I myself can deal with these stressors well doesn't mean that everyone else does as well.

Five years ago, I was entering high school... I think that was when I first started being aware of mental health as a concept and learning that it's important to take care of yourself not only physically but mentally as well.

-Diane Yu

My relationship with mental health has definitely improved over the last semester. While I’d say that my base levels of anxiety have remained the same, and I’ve definitely had my moments (who doesn’t?), I’ve definitely increased my self-awareness and pushed myself to take tangible steps toward self-care when I’m anxious, rather than just sitting in the anxiety.

This time last year, I was finishing up my semester in London. While I loved the city and the experience that I ultimately had, it was an especially rocky semester in terms of mental health. Studying abroad (and, frankly, having trouble making friends while abroad) was a huge lesson in negotiating expectations and learning how to find validation in myself (always, but especially when I’m not being validated by others). I’ve carried those lessons into the summer and my senior year at Michigan, and I’m certainly grateful for it.

Over the last five years, my mental health has increased tenfold. I graduated high school with my mental health being in its worst place, partially because of circumstance and partially because I hadn’t yet acquired the appropriate coping mechanisms. I’ve learned so much about myself in college, included the proper steps I need to take to manage my mental health. Developing my self-awareness, becoming more comfortable talking about mental health (through Mentality and my own mental health blog), and knowing my self-worth have all been invaluable skills.

-Emily Hein