There’s a stigma about seeking counseling or therapy can be quite damaging. Students experience a great deal of change in a short amount of time, which can create or exacerbate mental health concerns.
“Prevention” and “maintenance” are not words we consider very often when we talk about mental health, but they’re particularly important during these years. In addition, many students face violence and other forms of trauma on campus, often without the support networks they need to begin the recovery process.
Beating the stigma keeps everyone healthier, so it’s important to have a personal sense of the warning signs that contribute to a mental health issue.
History: Trauma, Family Stress, Previous Mental Illness
It’s important to do a checkup before diving headfirst into the stress of college. Anything lurking in your history that you’re currently managing could become a risk factor when combined with additional stress and change.
School stress alone can also be a trigger for anxiety and depression disorders, so getting a checkup can be an excellent preventative measure to ensure that the stress isn’t going to run away with you.
Substances Abuse Can Have a Correlatory Relationship with Mental Illness
Substance abuse and mental illness work together. According to Rutgers University, substance abuse interacts with aspects of your life and health in many different ways. Stress, trauma, and illness can contribute to substance abuse, or the abuse can causes crises with existing issues.
Substance abuse in particular is likely to result in acute incidents that require intervention by campus staff or authorities. Many campuses have protocols for incidents involving distressed students, and they can connect you with services that exist to help you. It’s ideal to take advantage of campus services to prevent any incidents that would be dangerous and require the involvement of authorities. The more you can look after your needs in advance, the less risk there is.
Get Familiar with the Challenges and the Resources
Unfortunately, one of the biggest challenges when it comes to mental health is getting treatment, and getting it affordably. Mental health coverage is still a rare commodity when it comes to insurance, so it’s important do do your research and to make use of preventative services in an effort to avoid a crisis.
On the upside, legislators are beginning to come to terms with the fact that mental health is an important concern for young people. Some states and institutions are mandating that mental health professionals be available on campus.
An important preparation to make before taking the college plunge is to look at your insurance situation. Ask questions about your parents’ insurance if they have it. See what your options are on campus, and take stock of which services will be covered. Visit medical institutions and services available on campus, and make use of student advisers. If you need to factor mental health costs into your annual budget, it’s best to know that well in advance.
While you’re a student is a great time to take stock of your mental health. You’re unlikely to have as easy or cheap access to the kinds of services that some campuses are providing until you land a career with good benefits. Take advantage of them now, don’t forget about preventative health, and set yourself up for success in your new academic adventure.