Demand for mental health services on U.S. campuses is rising five times faster than enrollment.
As campus leaders scramble to understand and meet students' mental health needs, there's also been an explosion of interest in the concepts of grit and resilience. Some colleges and universities have already built training programs that aim to help students improve their resilience, with the ultimate goal of reducing demand for counseling services.
Clinical psychologist Meg Jay explores what resilience is and how people build it in her recent book, Supernormal. In a recent interview with TED Conferences (the host of TED talks), Jay shared several ways that people can build resilience.
1: Resilient people avoid self-deprecation. People sometimes feel embarrassed about their stress, comparing their situation to others who seem to have been through worse. But resilient people acknowledge that their challenges are "legitimate," Jay says.
2: Resilient people remember how far they've come. One way to improve your resilience is to remember that you've already been resilient in the past. Jay recommends thinking about three previous challenges you faced and what strategies you used to get through them.
3: Resilient people take back control. "Every problem can be approached somehow," Jay argues. Resilient people look for parts of the situation they can change, then take steps to improve them.
4: Resilient people use their talents. Everyone copes with a challenging situation differently. Resilient people know their strengths, such as a specific skill or friendly personality, and use those to help solve their problem.
5: Resilient people find allies. According to Jay, people who recover from adversity tend to have at least one other person they can rely on for support, such as a close friend, family member, or counselor.
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6: Resilient people maintain their relationships. You don't need a hundred best friends to be resilient, but it helps to recognize your desired level of interaction (one close friend or dozens of acquaintances?) and make sure you're filling your social needs.
7: Resilient people take breaks. If you constantly focus on your challenges, you will burn yourself out. Instead, identify the activities that refresh you (such as reading, socializing, or playing sports) and schedule regular time for those activities.
8: Resilient people celebrate their growth. When you get through a difficult situation, you may not feel like it helped you. But, Jay argues, by learning how to overcome the obstacle, you've actually built new confidence and coping skills that will help you recover more quickly next time (Jay, TED.com, 1/5).
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