Insurance is usually thought of in relation to vehicle damage or copayments at the doctor’s office. However, one thing insurance is rarely ever associated with is college students. College students are far more related to parties or finals than they are to insurance. Despite this, insurance is as crucial to college students as it is to anyone else, and possibly even more so.
A poll done in 2017 by healthline.com found that “44 percent of American college students report having symptoms of depression and 19 percent of young people in the US either contemplate or attempt suicide every year.” (Lane) The American College Health Association conducted a survey in 2015 that reported “21.9 percent of students said that within the last 12 months, anxiety had affected their academic performance”. (Brown) Depression and anxiety often go hand in hand, one feeding the other in a horrific and vicious cycle.
I am extremely fortunate as a college student to be able to rely on my parents’ health insurance while going through school. Not only do I get medications and doctor’s visits paid for, either fully or in part, I also have access to critical services such as mental health care. Psychological help is not something widely talked about in American society. Having a mental illness is taboo. If you’re stressed, you don’t talk about it. You take care of it by partying or going out with friends. If you’re sad, you don’t cry, and you keep it to yourself. You stay in your room and eat ice cream and watch Netflix. Of course, these actions don’t take care of the problem, and the fact of the matter is, anxiety and depression affects an enormous amount of students on college campuses.
Shortly after the beginning of my sophomore year of college, I went through an abrupt and unexpected break up with a young man I’d been in a long-term relationship with. Break ups are never fun, but most people go through a period of sadness before bouncing back. I, however, spiraled into a place darker than any I’ve ever known. I couldn’t sleep, I stopped eating, and I stopped going to classes. My grades suffered, and my social life suffered. I never wanted to leave the room, and there were many days where I couldn’t make it out of bed. I felt so lost and confused, and I allowed my feelings to overwhelm me and make me feel worthless. I kept waiting and waiting for things to get better, but a few months passed, and I felt just as horrible as I had all along. None of my friends or family members knew what to do to make me feel better, and I was at just as much of a loss on how to help myself as they were. I would constantly think about how easy it would be to go to the top floor of a nearby dorm building and jump off the fire escape balcony, a fall I knew was likely to kill me because of the sign bolted to the wall nearby: “Suicide is not the answer”, followed by the campus suicide hotline.
My campus, of course, has a psychological health services department, but I’d heard that the service offered was not at the level it should be at. I’d also learned from personal experience that the health services in general on my campus were not as personalized as one would like for such care, simply because the workload on a campus with over 25,000 students is overwhelming, and the staff, through no fault of their own, can’t give students the attention they’d like. However, through my father’s health insurance, provided by his employers, I have access to a certain number of free therapy sessions each year with offices partnered with our provider.
It is impossible to explain how depression feels to someone who has never experienced it, a problem I ran into at home. However, even if certain members of my family couldn’t understand what I was going through, it was becoming painfully obvious how desperately I needed help. Finally, I talked to my parents, and we decided that I needed to see a therapist. Despite being a psychology major, I was a little nervous about going to see a therapist, but the sessions I had will always be remembered as an amazing experience. I learned so much about changing my perspective on situations to better cope with them, or about reaffirming my worth as a person so as not to lose myself to my grief. I firmly believe I would not have had such an incredible experience with my therapy if it hadn’t been for insurance. Thanks to the services available through my health insurance, my academic career was saved, and, quite possibly, also my life.
Insurance is important to me because it is so much more than car repairs and vaccinations. Insurance helps me, and hundreds of thousands of students like me, overcome life’s invisible illnesses. In a time where the number of students seeking help for mental illnesses is increasing every year, having insurance is more critical than ever. Insurance is the unseen and underappreciated guardian of our nation’s aspiring politicians, teachers, doctors, and leaders.
Brown, Joel. “Anxiety: The Most Common Mental Health Diagnosis in College Students.” BU Today. Boston University, 02 Oct. 2016. Web. 04 Mar. 2017.
Lane, Hannah. “Depression among College Students Is a Growing Concern.” WSFA 12 News. WSFA 12 News, 02 Mar. 2017. Web. 04 Mar. 2017.
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