Going off to college is an exciting time for both students and parents. This milestone comes with big changes, too. Living away from home, gaining independence, meeting new people, and adjusting to a more rigorous and challenging curriculum are some of the things college students will encounter. Here are a few ways you can help support your college student’s mental health as they enter this stage of their life.
Talk to your student about mental health.
Mental health problems are on the rise amongst college students in the U.S., with a significant increase in school counseling clinic access. In the UK, the number of students who left college early due to mental health problems tripled from 2010 to 2015. Thus mental health can be an incredible challenge for students. Talking to your student about mental health can be helpful. Maintaining open communication and providing support to your student when it comes to mental health challenges can make a big difference.
Come up with a plan for treatment.
For students who are being treated by a psychiatrist or psychologist, it’s important to set-up a care plan now that they are away from home. Find a care provider nearby their college campus who will be more easily accessible to them, should they need help. Always check-in regularly to be sure you are aware of any changes in your student’s health and academic performance.
Encourage healthy habits.
Late nights staying up to do projects or going out with friends, which can include more access to alcohol and other drugs, can take a toll on mental health. Encourage your student to eat healthy, exercise, avoid excessive alcohol or drug use, and get restful sleep. Talk to them about the importance of practicing self-care to maintain overall health and well-being.
Be patient if they make mistakes.
Getting a bad grade or missing an assignment will happen on occasion but when it does, offer support to your student rather than lecturing them. No student will be perfect and failure is a great learning opportunity. High achievement isn’t worth it if your student’s emotional well-being is taking a hit. Encourage them to do what they can and to seek help when they need it.
Heading off to college is a huge accomplishment. Follow these tips to make sure you’re prepared for any potential challenges ahead.
If you have a student who is going to college in Central Florida, TTHI Counseling Center has locations nearby where we offer counseling and behavioral therapy. You can find mental health services at our Kissimmee Counseling Center, St. Cloud Counseling Center, and Longwood Counseling Center. If you think you or your student would benefit from therapy, don’t hesitate to contact us.