Mental Health in the College Years
April 05, 2020
Understanding Mental Health in Teens and Young Adults
College is a time of transition and can be stressful for students faced with new social and academic challenges alongside a new level of independence. Managing one’s mental health at this time is multifaceted and very important.
Mental health conditions are extremely common, and research shows that one in five young adults will experience a mental health condition in college. It is also important to know that 75% of all mental health conditions begin by age 24, which is why college is a crucial time in understanding mental health and how to maintain mental wellness.
When deciding where to go for college, consider the decisions you make from the perspective of what environments and situations may be best in maintaining your mental wellness. There are several factors that can impact one’s mental wellbeing, including:
College location — Is it far from home? Does the weather play a role in mental wellness? Is the student experiencing culture shock?
Size of the college — Is it a large college or university, or does the student have individualized attention?
Living situation — Is the student living alone for the first time? Housed with a random roommate? Stressed about paying rent while in school?
School resources available to students — Is there mental health care readily available? Counseling services? Referral resources?
Managing Mental Wellness
It is important to take care of our mental health because experiencing problems in this area can affect all areas of our lives, including our physical health, academic performance, friendships, and work. Finding ways to maintain mental wellness in college can have a positive impact on your overall college experience.
Below are some ways in which you can take care of your mental health in college:
- Get outside, go for a walk or enjoy other forms of exercise.
- Join a club or organization that can help you build a social support system.
- Take advantage of mental and emotional health resources available to you. Know when to seek help and where you can go for help.
- Eat balanced, nutritious meals regularly. This includes ensuring proper water intake daily.
- Get enough sleep — Despite deadlines and a full workload, it is important to get enough sleep every night and to maintain a regular sleep schedule when possible.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol.
- Reduce stress — If you are feeling a lot of academic pressure, speak with your counselor. Does it make sense to take fewer classes and graduate a little later? There are different approaches to many stressors that may help alleviate pressure.
Managing a Mental Health Condition in College
In addition to maintaining mental wellness, if a student has a mental health condition upon entering college, there are many steps that can be taken to ensure successful management of the condition.
- Keep scheduled appointments with mental health professionals that you are already working with or, if moving far, set up an appointment with a new mental health care professional.
- If taking medication, continue to do so as prescribed and order refills before running out.
- Consider living with trusted family members or friends in the initial months or during the first year to assist with the transition of living away from home.
- Look into opportunities for special education services, there may be resources available to you to help with coursework, exams, and other aspects of your academic life.
- Understand the school and community resources available to you and take advantage of them as needed.
Managing a mental health condition in college may present you with new challenges but there are many resources available to you. Planning ahead, preparing carefully, and taking advantage of resources can go a long way in managing mental health conditions and maintaining mental wellness.
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