Whether you’re going to college for the first time or going back to school after a long summer break, the transition can be extremely stress inducing. This shake up can cause symptoms of anxiety or depression, whether or not you have a preexisting mental health condition.
It’s totally normal to experience mixed emotions and stress when the start of a new semester rolls around.You don’t have to let these emotions take control and get in the way of you having a great time at school. The good news is, there are plenty of resources if you’re struggling, or if you need to help a friend who’s in a rough place. All you have to do is know where to go or who to call when you need help.
Here are 5 resources for college students struggling with their mental health at school.
1. School Counseling Centers
Most colleges and universities have some kind of mental health center or counseling center with a mix of therapists, social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists. At the very least, your university should have at least one mental health professional available to help you.
With your school counseling center, you can make appointments to attend therapy and/or see a psychiatrist to get prescriptions for psychiatric medications. Your school’s counseling center might also have specific hours for walk-ins, but you will have to check with the center. You might also be able to join a peer support group or therapy group organized by the counseling center. To learn what mental health resources your university has, check out your school’s website to find your school’s mental health services, the counseling center’s location, and applicable phone numbers.
2. Mental Health Clubs & Organizations
Getting involved in clubs and organizations is a great addition to your college experience, see if your school has any mental health related clubs you might be interested in!. There are a few awesome outside organizations that help set up clubs and provide guidelines and resources for wellness-related clubs.
Active Minds is one of the most popular nationwide organizations of this kind, with over 450 chapters in both high schools and colleges. Chapters of this organization raise awareness for mental illnesses, fundraise, and promote their school’s counseling-center services. You can search chapters by state to see if your school has an Active Minds chapter to get involved with. If your school doesn’t have a club like this, it’s the perfect opportunity for you to start your own chapter! Pitch it to the student activities board and see if you can get a couple friends to join you in being the founding members. You’ll be making a positive difference in your school and creating a great resource for those who need it. (P.S. starting a club at school will look great on your resume!)
3. Online Therapy
It can be hard to carve out the time to see a therapist in person when you’re dealing with studying, exams, and extracurricular activities. Online therapy provides you with flexibility that traditional therapy doesn’t, and research has shown that text-based online therapy is as effective as in-person therapy. With Talkspace, you’ll be matched with a therapist who is a good fit for you. You can text, leave audio or video messages for your therapist at your convenience any time of the day with the Talkspace app on your phone or tablet, whether you’re in your dorm, on the quad, or even at a party! You can even have a live video option if you prefer an option that’s more like FaceTime. There are multiple plans you can choose from to find the perfect online therapy fit for you.
4. Crisis Hotlines & Chats
If you’re in crisis, don’t wait or hesitate to reach out to a crisis line, whether it’s over the phone or by text. By calling or texting one of these services, you’ll be connected to a trained operator who can help you get out of crisis mode safely and figure out next steps. If you feel more comfortable texting than speaking over the phone, Crisis Text Line is a great option for anyone in “any type of crisis.” Support is free and available 24/7. All you have to do to get started is text “HOME” to 741741.
If you’re feeling suicidal and would prefer to speak to someone over the phone, we recommend calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. They also have an online text based chat. If you’re LGTQIA+ and looking for specifically trained allies, you can call the LGBT National Hotline at 1-888-843-4564.
5. Your Personal Support Network
Having a personal support network of trusted friends and family can be just as much of a resource as these other suggestions. Of course, talking to a friend isn’t the same as talking to a professional and shouldn’t be substituted for a mental health professional’s opinion, but it’s important to have a couple of people who you feel comfortable opening up to about your struggles when you’re feeling the need for social support.
You can even buddy up with someone at school and make a pact to check in with one another on a certain day of the week and talk about how each of you are doing. Don’t worry about being a burden to the trusted people you open up to — friends and family are meant to help each other. That’s what they’re there for!
Although sometimes it may feel like you’re all alone in what you’re dealing with at college, I promise, you’re not! Remember that you have multiple options and solutions for coping with mental health struggles. Whether you’re turning to on-campus resources, online therapy, hotlines, or trusted friends, you’re never alone, and help is always available. You just have to ask for it.