How College Students Can Cope with Mental Illness and Stress

mental illness and stress

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  • College students have always struggled with mental stress and anxiety.

    Graduating from high school, usually in a family-based setting, and transitioning to a college program, even if still living at home, requires major adjustments.

    Some students are not ready at first for the pressures of college and earning top grades to ensure a good job at graduation. With the current COVID-19 pandemic and other cultural stressors, many students are finding it difficult to manage their emotions and their coursework.

    Fortunately, resources are available at many campuses. Peer groups, academic advisors, licensed counselors, and pastoral support can all help a student who is struggling with mental illness or academic stress.

    Peer Groups

    If you aren’t sure if you’re ready for one on one psychiatric appointments, there are other, less intimidating ways to start talking about your mental health issues. A low-key way to share concerns and stress is by joining a peer groups, sometimes called peer listeners.

    The student leaders are given simple strategies to encourage their peers on campus or in classes to talk about things that bother them rather than keeping them bottled up.

    The groups are casual and usually not lead by anyone with any leader certifications, but they do help many students express views and emotions about college life.

    Academic Advisors

    While you may associate them mostly with class and career advice, did you know you can talk to your academic advisor about mental health issues as well?

    Although academic advisers who are affiliated with colleges and universities have a primary role of guiding students through selected programs of study, they often hear about lifestyle issues, too.

    Students can explain things about their lives, such as jobs, finances, and relationships, that cause stress and may be impacting their college progress. The advisers can direct students to professional community resources that can help them address issues like depression, suicidal thoughts, and substance abuse.

    Licensed Counselors

    In addition to academic advisors referring students to licensed counselors and psychiatry resources, students and their families may decide to work with licensed psychiatry services off campus. Help or referrals to other experts is available for any kind of mental health concern a student may have.

    Community-based counselors and therapists are not connected to the college or university and do not share the student’s information with the academic institution.

    Pastoral Support

    Some campuses sponsor student groups and support services that include an religious or spirituality center, which does not espouse one particular religious faith but instead coordinates multi-faith services.

    other valuable tips:

    Some of these programs offer individual counseling at no cost, and many do not include religious principles or tenets of faith in counseling students, so there is no proselytizing. The service is free and provided by individuals who are authorized or licensed to counsel students.

    College student stress is very real, and it can be serious. Students’ health may be impaired along with their college studies. Anyone struggling with mental health issues should be encouraged to seek help through services like those above.

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