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by Sylvia B. Bodell
| College, Young Adults, Counseling

Building Better Mental Health in College and Beyond

“The most important thing that students can do for their mental health is to be proactive about their physical and mental well-being.”

Female conversation blue room

If there was ever a time you need to take care of your mental health, it’s when you go away to college. New people, challenging classes and expectations, new experiences, access to drugs and alcohol – can all create new stresses and anxieties that can impact your mental health. Then add COVID’s effects and pandemic fatigue.

Mental health is a major concern on college campuses. According to research published by the American Psychological Association in 2018, more than one-third of first-year college students are impacted. That’s compared to the 20 percent of the US population (1 in 5 Americans) who will experience some form of mental health challenge during their lifetime. Colleges are adding additional support to help students take care of their mental health even before it becomes a problem.

“The most common mental health issues for college students are: 1) anxiety disorders 19%; 2) depression 14%; 3) eating disorders 9%; 4) suicide ideation 7%; and 5) alcohol use disorder 6%,” said Laurie Kendig, LCSW, a therapist with The Center. She sees clients in-person at The Center’s counseling offices at Christ United Methodist Church Plano and First Baptist Church McKinney.

“The most important thing that students can do for their mental health is to be proactive about their physical and mental well-being.”

Proactive measures for parents

Parents - there are proactive measures you can take before your son/daughter leaves. Talk about what to expect in college. Ask about hopes as well as concerns. If your student is currently receiving counseling, have resources on campus or in the local community to continue services.

A frequent contributor to parent/student panels, Laurie speaks annually to college-bound students and their parents on mental health in college. Her other areas of focus include: parenting, school-related issues, social skills, ADHD/autism/developmental testing, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and group therapy.

“Before COVID, students were already struggling with anxiety, depression and loneliness. Now it’s been exacerbated. Young people are more anxious than ever,” added Laurie.

“How do you know if it is an early sign of a mental health issue or is just part of adjusting to all the changes? You don’t have to know the answer to this question! Listen to your mind and body. If something feels not quite right and you have trouble shaking that feeling, talk to someone you trust who can listen and help you decide what kind of support you may need. “It’s also essential that students know when it’s time to reach out for help or when to help a friend. It is much better to seek help as soon as possible.”

We're here for you

The Center offers a wide range of services for children, teens and families, from assessments for ADHD, autism and college preparation, to parenting consultations and counseling for children and teens. The Center is in-network with most major insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid for counseling services.

To schedule an appointment with any of The Center's therapists call 214-526-4525 or go to OUR TEAM to learn more.

College students can reduce anxiety and improve mood by:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Eating healthy foods
  • Exercise/Work out
  • Daily prayer & meditation
  • Journaling
  • Hanging out with friends
  • Limiting commitments
  • Streaming music, movies
  • Reading (not a textbook)
  • Using time management

Apps to check out:

  • Calm and Headspace: Guided Meditation and Mindfulness
  • Happify: Tools & programs to help take control of your thoughts
  • MoodPaths: Personalized exercises to help strengthen your mental health; daily check ins
  • RiseUp + Recover: Eating Disorder management
  • Sleep Time: Track your sleep patterns
  • Talk Life: Peer Support Network for mental health
  • IntelliCare: New app, developed by Northwestern University. Collection of several apps that work together to reduce stress.

Who can I talk to?

  • Counselor through campus counseling services and health center
  • Resident Advisor (RA)
  • Dean of Student Affairs, faculty member, or student chaplain
  • Check out resources off-campus – all communities have mental health providers
  • Peer Support Group (NAMI)

Online resource for college students:

  • Information on variety of mental health topics
  • Staying healthy
  • Helping a friend
  • Resources on your campus
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