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When and How to Seek Mental Health Support on Campus

Addressing mental health struggles requires knowing two things: when to seek help and what resources you can turn to. Let's discuss what colleges offer.

College life is a whirlwind of changes and challenges. Moving away from home, dealing with academic pressures, and working part-time jobs are a lot to handle. When it comes to managing stress and deadlines, the journey can feel lonely sometimes if you don’t know where to turn. How can your college campus help you stay afloat and happy? Discover the many ways colleges support students’ mental health as well as common times you’re encouraged to seek it.

Common reasons to seek mental health support in college

According to a recent mental health report, more than half of students in American public universities have anxiety and depression, making the following conditions ubiquitous to most teenage college students. Knowing others struggle with similar issues will make it easier for you to feel okay reaching out for support.

Performance pressure

Many college students feel pressure to perform well academically because loved ones expect high grades. I went through the same with my family—I was constantly told to look, act, and be perfect, especially at school. Many of us feel the need to give our 100% constantly, not knowing it’s likely leading people to develop performance anxiety. Seek help if you feel overly stressed about your work.

Peer pressure and campus life

Bullying, fights, and social isolation don’t stop in college and can damage your self-confidence. Being pushed to do something you’re unwilling to can also damage your mental health. Feelings of sadness and hopelessness may arise and lead to depression and other mental health problems.

Career-related confusion

Perhaps you’ve thought about whether you declared the right major or are just worried about whether your desired future career will be enough to sustain you. Many students quit their passions due to these problems, even if their hearts are against it. Talk to someone about it before you make any rash decisions.

Social media

The act of doom scrolling has made us feel like there’s no good left in the world. Not to mention that social media is designed to make us feel inadequate because we subconsciously compare ourselves to people we barely know—often behind heavily unrealistic filters. Don’t sit with these feelings of inadequacy, as they can cause performance stress, anxiety, and depression.

Related: Using Social Media to Connect at College

How your college campus can support you

The demand for support on today’s college campuses is increasing. It’s the job of academic leaders to create a culture of support and offer programs to prioritize college students’ well-being. Many interventions and resources are now being provided by administrations to improve student welfare. If you’re struggling mentally, let this be a sign to explore the various wellness strategies available to you at your school.

Orientation sessions

Many colleges are proactively discussing mental health issues face-to-face during new student orientation sessions, varying from traditional presentations to short videos. A stellar example is an initiative from the University of Texas at Austin, which led a statewide task force and created a video about suicide prevention for incoming students in 2016. If you haven’t gone off to college yet, you may be surprised by the care that’s shown on campus right from the beginning.

Free counseling

While many schools have offered counseling services for a while, there’s been a big push for a more structured and accessible screening process and more comprehensive resources. Institutions nationwide are embracing approaches such as free one-on-one sessions and group workshops. The variety of offerings is entirely dependent on your college.

Social support

Have you ever felt lost on how to help a friend going through a tough time? Many campuses offer different tools to give you an idea of how to approach being someone else’s support system. For instance, 988 Lifeline Chat and Text connects you to a crisis counselor through text or online messaging to talk about your own issues or how to help someone else. Supportive friendships are so important and can even give you a higher chance of a longer, healthier life.

Wellness and stress management classes

Many schools offer guided meditation, stress management, and yoga classes through extracurricular programs. Even faculty members want to join the cause for better mental health, offering students time to practice mindfulness and relieve stress. At Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, there’s a Relaxation Room where you can develop and practice wellness techniques to help enhance your academic productivity. Let’s face it—we could all use some stress-handling tips. Learning different coping strategies can help you manage your stress and reduce sleepless nights.

Therapy dogs

It’s simple—therapy dogs spread joy! Whether it’s a tail wag or a smiling face, dogs have an uncanny ability to brighten people’s days. Studies show that students who interacted with dogs before an exam, during breaks, or after class experienced improved mood and reduced stress during finals. Imagine having a trained therapy dog to visit with when you’re stressed or nervous between classes; it’s worth it to look into whether your school offers this service or could start a program.

Related: College and Universities That Allow Pets on Campus

Other support to advocate for on campus

While these interventions are helpful, institutions can always be doing more to help further protect the welfare of their students, such as:

  • Setting realistic expectations: It’s imperative for faculty and campus mental health professionals to help students learn how to set realistic expectations for themselves and their academic responsibilities. Setting the bar too high can leave you overwhelmed and depleted.
  • Adding more mental health personnel: Hiring more psychologists and counselors can help students face their mental health challenges better. Having adequate employees also ensures a healthy workload for all staff members.
  • Encouraging healthy lifestyles: What you do and eat can influence your mental health. You can encourage your campus to incorporate more wellness programs that promote regular exercise and healthy eating to reduce stress and improve well-being.

Related: An Honest Mental Health Review and Student Resources for Success

Maintaining good mental health is not a trend but a priority. Rates of depression and anxiety among students are surging, so learning how to curb your own mental health issues is important. The struggles at school and in life can sometimes feel daunting. Remember to reach out when you need help, utilize your campus resources, and if you notice a friend in need, don’t hesitate to lend a hand.

If plentiful support and resources are at the top of your college search criteria, be sure to check out this list of the Best Colleges and Universities for Access to Student Support Services, recommended by real students!

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