The shift from school to college is huge. It changes all parameters and goals. There are new routines and responsibilities. Institutions change, teacher and friends change. It offers new opportunities and causes unique problems. Some of these problems are obvious and are discussed openly whereas other, more discreet ones border on the taboo.
In this latter category lie issues of anxiety, depression and social adjustment. There is a subliminal ecosystem of these psychosocial issues which can dent college life.
It is not that campuses themselves cause anxiety or other related mentally-defeatist phenomena like under-confidence, shyness or inexplicable vulnerability. The nature of general anxiety is that it is catalyzed by the realities of one̢s surroundings into numerous particular anxieties. Hence, the college experience provides particular molds in which a person̢s anxieties find distinct, college-oriented shapes.
̢I didn̢t realize I̢m a slightly anxious person till I was pursuing my post-graduation,̢ says Ishita Kapoor (name changed), a former student of Delhi̢s Lady Shri Ram College for Women. ̢In college, anxiety was something that just hovered around me and I didn̢t know that it had wrapped me so heavily till much later.̢
̢My relationships, my perception of self, everything was unknowingly in some ways altered by this sense of overwhelming anxiety that loomed over me. There is peer pressure just to be someone, to stand out, be sexually active̢_ I just felt unsure of myself because everyone was doing something amazing. People had their own production houses. They were part of college societies,̢ she says.
The peer pressure upon entering college can be tricky, even for those of sound mental health. Depending upon the region, kind of college and crowd, it could be of different kinds. The pressure to do well academically, romantically, sexually, to drink etc.
The psychosocial makes an impact at both individual and interpersonal levels. The discomfort a depressed or anxiety-ridden patient may feel in isolation is mirrored in the discomfort in actually trying to socialise. In great part, this is due to the angle of shame. If there was no stigma attached to depression and its cousin variations, it would be a lot easier for victims to confess to their condition. In this regard, a culture of in-college support systems is sorely lacking in India.