As summer kicks off, many high school grads are eagerly looking forward to beginning their college careers. But often, we don’t consider that even positive milestones—like starting college—can bring on new stressors that challenge our existing coping skills and can even impact mental health. The stress of missing home, losing old relationships and building new ones, making important life decisions, and trying to navigate life independently in college can lead to disappointment in what are regularly described as “the best years of your life.”
So while entering college may be an exciting time, making the adjustment to this new chapter can also be a difficult time. As an excellent resource at bestcolleges.com points out, mental health issues often accompany college life; depression, anxiety, suicide, eating disorders, and addiction are the most common mental health concerns among students. And while one in four students has a diagnosable condition, as many as 40% do not seek help.
Left untreated, mental health challenges can lead to a variety of negative outcomes, including a drop in grades, dropping out of school, suicide attempts, substance abuse-related accidents, and other serious injuries. It is of vital importance that students, parents, and college faculty and staff support young people as they make the transition from high school to college by providing words of encouragement to seek professional support when symptoms arise. It can mean the difference not only between success and failure in the college setting, but also life and death in many instances.
And while mental health conditions can be intense and frightening to the sufferer and those around her, help is available. College campuses have student health centers that regularly see and treat these conditions. Frequent as they are, many peers can also provide support and validation. The key is to speak up when you see or experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, or addiction.
For an in-depth guide to recognizing these conditions in yourself and others, and how to help when you do see the symptoms, check out bestcolleges.com’s “The Top Mental Health Challenges Facing Students” here. For more support resources and access to local mental health providers, visit www.mhamt.org.
Remember: you are never alone.