A few days ago I came across the article, Student loans are literally depressing people.
My first thought was, “Well, yeah! Owing someone else money for an education that may or may not be useful is tough.”
The facts illustrated in the article were things I had experienced and known already for years. According to the article, a recent study done by the University of South Carolina, and University of California, Los Angeles found that student loan debt is a major stressor for young adults.
It’s easy to see why too — with college education costs on the rise, education is becoming more of a commodity and less accessible. Students are graduating, burdened with student loan debt, while trying to get on their own two feet.
It’s tough to manage paying back student loans, while trying to save for an emergency fund, save for retirement, and also things like saving for a wedding, house, and kids.
For years I’ve felt that debt is a money mental health issue, yet not many people want to talk about it. It’s easy to cast blame and say “It’s your fault for taking out student loans.”
But it’s not so black and white. An education is nearly required to get a decent job, yet a Bachelor’s doesn’t promise you anything these days. Higher education seems like a seductive choice, but tell that to the many people with Master’s and P.h.D’s who are jobless or trying to make ends meet as an adjunct professor.
I believe the depression that comes from debt comes from a feeling of constantly being in battle. If you can pay your debt back, it’s at the expense of other life goals. I know this well, as my debt affects where I live, how I save, and how much I can put towards my dreams. For those who are unable to pay their debt back, or who simply don’t care, they will be relegated to a life of getting harassed by debt collectors and potentially garnished wages.
Student loan debt doesn’t go away. It won’t go away even if you file for bankruptcy. I also think some of the mental health issues stem from a severe disappointment. Our culture has pumped us up and told us we can do whatever we want, yet for many people, they graduate full of optimism and are soon jaded by the harsh realities of the world.
While it was tough reading the article and confirming what I already knew, I was glad to see it published. Too often student loan debt is diminished in importance and people don’t make the connection between debt and mental health. I truly believe it is a real issue that affects happiness, relationships, careers, lifestyles, and choices.
Arguing about it won’t help, but keeping it out in the open and discussing it will. I think the more we can talk about how student loan debt affects people’s mental health, the closer we can get to finding a solution to this issue.
I know for me, that my student loans have caused its fair share of mental grief. I’ve found relief in accepting my debt, taking action, and trying to inspire others to be debt free.
Because being in debt isn’t a way to live.
How do you think student loans affect mental health?
Melanie Lockert is a freelance wordsmith, a passionate debt fighter, and frugal lovin’ minimalist who writes at DearDebt.com. She devotes 50% of her income to student loan debt and is often dreaming of her next adventure.