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College Students' Quiet Quitting and Their Mental Health
It’s no secret that the US is dealing with a full-blown mental health crisis.
While such issues impact everyone, student mental health is a major issue; one that is not being properly addressed. Almost three-quarters of college students experience some manner of mental health crisis during their post-secondary careers.
The current socioeconomic landscape appears to have exacerbated mental health issues for this already vulnerable group. As a result, the “quiet quitting” trend impacting workplaces has also entered the post-secondary classroom setting.
Students And Quiet Quitting
Burnout due to the pandemic led to US workers prioritizing work-life balance, and many decided to embrace the new trend that some labeled “quiet quitting.”
In fairness, the term “quiet quitting” is a misnomer since employees haven’t stopped doing their jobs. They’ve merely ceased going “above and beyond” – sticking strictly to their job requirements and nothing more.
However, quiet quitting isn’t only happening in the workplace. Students have followed suit, with one-third of them “quiet quitting” school–specifically college–to preserve their mental health.
We live in a time where stress is high for many reasons, inflation has reached record highs, the job market isn’t benefitting all Americans, wages aren’t enough to meet the cost of living for many, there is sociopolitical turmoil throughout the world, and these issues are being amplified by the media. All of this and more are contributing to the mental health struggles of students as they try to navigate a new part of their lives. Many students struggle to cope with the stresses of their new role and develop a wide variety of mental health issues.
Instead of swimming against the tide and trying to fight through adversity while excelling in school, college students have emulated quiet quitting: embracing the notion of “Cs get Degrees.” In other words, they’re doing just enough to get by to the benefit of their mental health. No longer are they trying to exceed academic expectations.
Students and Mental Health
That college students are willing to sacrifice their GPAs shows the seriousness of the mental health crisis among them. These driven young minds pushed themselves to get into post-secondary school but have decided that the demands placed on them are too much for their well-being.
However, many college students realize employers care more about their degrees than their GPA. So, this act of preservation isn’t sacrificing their whole future as long as they’re doing just enough to graduate.
All the same, mental health issues in college are bound to bleed into the workplace. College students represent the workforce of the near future, and their mental health problems aren’t going to vanish once they’ve graduated.
Many colleges offer Student Assistance Programs (SAPs) and other health and wellness solutions on campus to combat these ongoing issues and to provide students with tools and coping skills before entering the workforce. Typically, such programs might provide services like the following:
- Support groups
- Disability Advocacy
- Mental health education
Given the breadth of this crisis, students might need more mental health support than what’s available on campus (which often has its limits). For instance, schools that partner with a provider of comprehensive well-being programs and SAPs can offer more individualized mental health care and improved student engagement, retention, and academic outcomes due to increased quantity and ease of use of access points.
Keeping the above sentiments in mind, here are some helpful suggestions for students aiming to preserve their mental health:
- Treat yourself with respect and kindness
- Take care of your body (through diet and exercise) to harness the connection between mental and physical health
- Surround yourself with a positive social circle
- Perform volunteer work
- Develop healthy coping mechanisms for stress (e.g., mindful meditation, prayer)
What’s Next for Students?
Prevalent mental health issues for college students can haunt them once they’re finished school, impacting their ability to perform in the workplace.
However, students can manage their mental health to better prepare themselves for the future by proactively reaching out for help. Additionally, planning one’s days to maximize time while serving one’s mental health (e.g., getting 8 hours of sleep per night) is a must. Students benefit from making time in short bursts for hobbies and spending quality time with friends and loved ones when possible.
Schools and guidance counselors can support their students’ mental health by being more intentional about mental health. This approach could mean focusing schedules and curriculums on school-life balance instead of bringing students to their breaking point.
Students and school staff developing an understanding of mental health issues through frequent conversations will normalize the topic. This way, mental health becomes a well-understood, accepted facet of life instead of a stigma many try to ignore.
Again, it’s important to realize that quiet quitting is a misnomer. It’s a negative term that further stigmatizes the mental health crisis causing it. We must change the conversation around “quiet quitting” and view it as people prioritizing their health and wellness.
Within the workplace, for instance, if an employee performs their 9-5 duties proficiently, why should employers expect more without the appropriate compensation?
Conclusion: Make Quiet Quitting in College A Thing of The Past
It’s time to retire the term “quiet quitting” in regard to college students and focus on offering robust mental health support in schools and the workplace to prevent students and employees from burning out.