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Formerly St. Louis Center for Family Development
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Making Mental Health a Priority in Your College Years

Navigating Resources On-Campus and in the Community

Everything in college is new: New classmates, housing, campus life, coursework and an overall sense of freedom that comes with taking on a new learning experience. While many find this “new” exhilarating, many others feel overwhelmed – and it is easy to understand why.

During this exciting time in your life when you are developing new routines, it is important to build a lifestyle that will prioritize and support your mental wellness. Below, we have outlined seven suggestions to help you get started.

Mental Health Conditions Can Impact Young Adults

The transition from high school to college represents many changes and stressors, including an enormous pressure to succeed. Whether as a result of scholarship requirements, your own expectations, or the influence of seeing your peers’ endeavors on social media, pursuing a college education is an intensive journey that may challenge you in new and unexpected ways.

Late adolescence and early adulthood are when the onset of a lot of mental health conditions take place, including:

There are many reasons why mental health conditions and similar symptoms present themselves during the young adult stage of life. For example, personality disorders are not easily identified in children and adolescents whose personalities are not fully developed. And then there are biological and environmental factors to take into consideration.

In sum: Your brain is learning and growing with you through the many new experiences you might be going through right now. It’s a lot to keep up with, and there is no reason to feel guilty or ashamed when your present self does not feel like the “best” version of yourself.

7 Tips to Help Prioritize Mental Wellness in College:

1. Take advantage of on-campus resources.

As mental health continues to be championed by millennials, Gen Z and other up-and-coming student populations, campuses nationwide are bolstering their These offerings vary by university, and can include:

  • University Health Center
  • Campus Counseling Services, which may or may not include psychiatry services
  • Group Therapy Sessions, which can also be psychoeducational or support groups
  • Therapy Animals
  • Case Managers
  • Wellness Clubs, such as Active Minds
  • Online Triage Assessments
  • Crisis Hotlines

It is important to know that campus mental health resources are typically designed to be short-term maintenance solutions, rather than providing regular, ongoing and/or intensive mental health treatment.

If your symptoms could be better addressed through regular visits with a therapist, you can search for resources in your community at psychologytoday.com, or contact your health insurance provider.

2. Do not delay getting the help you need.

Given that many young adults begin to experience symptoms of a mental health condition during their college years, they are also at-risk of developing thoughts of suicide. Please know there are resources that can help, including therapists with training and experience treating suicidality.

If you or another student are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255 for free, 24-hour confidential support. You can also use the Crisis Text Line by texting “HOME” to 741741.

Read more about how therapy can help you overcome harmful thoughts and emotions.      

3. Keep up with ongoing care.

Finding a therapist who makes you feel comfortable and respected is so important, and many are hesitant to move to another provider once they have established a reliable connection. However, if you are seeing a therapist at home and going to college in another town, be proactive in transitioning your regular sessions to a nearby location.

Your current provider and trusted loved ones can help you research and select a local therapist to visit once you begin the school year. If possible, have your first appointment when you are on-campus for orientation during the summer.

If you are staying in town, continue with your regular appointments. You may want to consider transitioning to another provider if your current therapist’s schedule is incompatible with your class schedule.

4. Practice self-care.

Stay in tune with your emotions and your response to stimulation by engaging in self-care and mindfulness activities. This could include:

  • Brief meditations
  • Stretching or yoga
  • Nature exposure, such as a walk outside
  • Unplugging from social media
  • A call or FaceTime with a loved one
  • Reading a non-academic book
  • Listening to music

Maintaining a balance of schoolwork with all the other fulfilling aspects of your life is key. Without this balance, important areas can be neglected or greatly intensified.

5. Nourish your body and soul.

Your parent or guardian likely helped keep you on an after-school routine when you were younger that included dinner, homework and bedtime. A lot can be said for sticking to aspects of this routine when you are on your own!

Pulling an all-nighter in the library every week takes a major toll on your body. As best as you can, try to keep up with regular exercise, eating nourishing foods and getting a full night’s sleep. In the midst of your school obligations and routines, also make time to participate in your campus’s many opportunities to be social and start new friendships. There are many groups where you can find a place to fit in and flourish!

6. Respect your limits.

It is important to make your mental health a priority, even if that means changing your idea of what college life is “supposed” to look like. For many, this means cutting back on course hours, transitioning to community college or withdrawing from classes altogether for a leave of absence.

Try not to lose sight of your own personal journey by comparing the path you are on to someone else’s. Keep it real. Having the courage to keep going is something to be proud of, no matter what you have been through in the past. Everyone has a lot of feelings during transitional periods, and those feelings need to be acknowledged.

7. Voice concern for yourself and others.

If you are unsure about whether or not you may need mental health counseling services, communication is key. You do not need to struggle in silence. Talk to an RA, a trusted friend or faculty member, or a campus advisor about on-campus options and whether an off-campus resource may be more beneficial for you.

For college students, feelings of sadness and anxiety are common. It is important to pursue a mental health resource when those feelings start impacting or interfering with your daily life, become persistent, or cause you to question if something might be wrong. Help is always available.

Sparlin Mental Health Provides Support for College Students

At Sparlin Mental Health in St. Louis, we understand the challenges today’s college students face. With increasing pressures to succeed and the overwhelming financial burdens of tuition, making mental health a priority may require the assistance of a compassionate, local therapist.

Therapists at Sparlin are trained in a variety of evidence-based practices to help treat young adults who are struggling with anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions. Sparlin also serves as a specialist for individuals who are struggling with thoughts of suicide.

Sparlin Mental Health helps young adults and individuals from all walks of life feel hopeful again. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.