Extracurricular Activities Impactful for Depressed College StudentsJanuary 21, 2020
Many young adults who struggled with depression in high school may have avoided participating in extracurricular activities or lost interest in activities they used to enjoy. Their lack of involvement in high school may have had a lasting impact on their relationships, the college they got into, and their willingness to try new things in college. Extracurricular activities give depressed college students the opportunity to apply the skills they’ve learned in classrooms and help shape the people that they want to be.
Why are college students vulnerable to depression?
The emotional transition to college can be challenging for young adults. Many students are away from home for the first time and may not know anyone on their first day of class. They’re adapting to new schedules and workloads, adjusting to life with roommates, and figuring out how to belong. As they try to make friends with other people, they may struggle with feeling lonely and helpless. They are living on their own without any limits on their sleep schedules, the foods they choose to eat and how much time they spend on activities such as video games or social media.
A college lifestyle emphasizes socializing and partying which can lead to depression for young adults who feel socially isolated or who take risks without thinking about the consequences. Young adults struggle to find a balance between responsibilities and their social lives.
Without their support system at home, students don’t know how to reach out for help. Other barriers to seeking help might be concerns over confidentiality, finances, and fear of not fitting in. Depressed college students are more likely to drop out than students who do not struggle with their mental health.
How Can College Students Get More Involved?
Many college students struggle with all-or-nothing thinking. They may hold high expectations for themselves to get good grades and make a lot of social plans, but if they don’t meet those expectations as easily as they expected to, they may give up on school and socializing altogether. Often, they may burn themselves out trying to maintain these standards.
Research suggests that individuals who are involved in sports teams or clubs during their school years have been mental health outcomes as adults. This may be because they are extracurricular activities they were passionate about that helped them build self-confidence, but the social aspect of these activities is also a major factor. College students who get involved on campus or with extracurricular activities not only feel more fulfilled in their free time, they are more likely to develop close relationships through these activities. This helps depressed college students fight off feelings of loneliness and hopelessness.
How Does Wilderness Therapy Help
Students who take a gap year or a semester off can gain life experiences and maturity through participating in a variety of extracurricular activities. By taking the extra time it may actually help the teen be more successful in a college setting. At Trails Momentum, we offer courses for academic credit that complement the recreation activities that young adults participate in during wilderness therapy. Our goal is not to overwhelm students with schoolwork but rather to teach them how to find a balance between work and play.
Trails Momentum is a unique wilderness therapy program that prepares depressed young adults to return to college and pursue their academic goals. In addition to hiking and backpacking, we offer fun adventure activities, like rock climbing, mountain biking, and kayaking, where young adults can apply the leadership skills and communication skills they’ve learned through classes and group therapy. Many of the students that we work with develop a passion for these activities and choose to continue participating in them as extracurriculars in college once they leave the program.
Trails Momentum Can Help
Trails Momentum is a wilderness therapy program for young adults, ages 18 to 25. Many of our students have been affected by trauma and have experienced depression, anxiety, and a loss of motivation that has made transitioning to adulthood difficult. This program uses adventure-based therapy to help students gain a new sense of self-awareness, confidence, and independence. The skills they learn throughout the wilderness program offer long-term benefits towards their ability to successfully self-navigate in the real world. We help individuals learn to engage with their environment, strengthen their sense of self, set goals for themselves, and move towards independence. We combine adventure programming with academic programs to help students plan for future success. Our goal is to help students make sense of and heal from their traumatic beliefs and regain a sense of adventure and purpose in life.
For more information about how we help depressed college students, call (877) 296-8711.