College can be an exciting, overwhelming time filled with all sorts of new pressures for any new freshman. If you are also dealing with an emotional or mental health issue, it can be even more stressful and scary. Here are the five tips to consider and re-evaluate to ensure you reduce your stress significantly as you start school (As well as a great reminder for those that are returning students interested in optimal college mental health):
Hanging Out With The People You Went To High School With
They like you, you like them. What’s the problem?! College is a time to branch out, learn who you are, and develop yourself in every way. It’s hard to grow when you’re hanging out with the same crowd. While those dealing with social anxiety may find this task particularly challenging, it helps to know that many students are feeling the same way. Getting involved with new clubs and organizations are the easiest way to meet new people. Signing up for a sport, club or leadership opportunity within your campus or student life organizations also takes off the pressure of getting to new friends- you each are involved with the activity on hand and have a natural rapport to build from.
Not Becoming Familiar with Special Resources
More than ever, campuses are starting to provide more accommodations for students with disabilities, especially the ones that aren’t so visible. From adaptive technology to classroom accommodations, I was surprised to find out what many of these things covered when I first started college. However if you think you may benefit from some of these resources, it is up to you to seek them out. Visit your campus student support center or academic adviser to inquire about accommodations.
Getting On A Biphasic Sleep Schedule
You’ve heard it before, but this is so crucial, particularly when developing new habits in a new setting. Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc in all areas of your life: According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, only 11% of college students sleep well. This, of course, makes a huge impact on college mental health. Not enough sleep leads to your brain’s inability to absorb both factual and procedural memories about how to do various physical tasks (WGBH Educational Foundation).
Not Getting In The Habit of Visiting Academic Resource Centers Regularly
No matter the department, each generally has it’s own resource center filled with tutors, editors and so on. While most students become familiar (very familiar) with these centers as they are cramming for finals, it would behoove you to start getting into the habit of making regular visits to these centers for optimal college mental health and peace at the end of the semester. While proactively visiting the math resource center is not top of mind three weeks into the semester, you may be amazed to find how making small, consistent visits like this will pay off. Who knows, perhaps you start comprehend the material much better throughout the semester that you find you may not even need the finals week cram visits while everyone else is bombarding the calculus tutors or waiting in line for an English editor.
Experimenting With Prescription or Non-Prescription Drugs and Other Recreational Substances
Tragically, stimulants, opioids and other prescription drugs have become a huge problem on campus, and has become the United States’ fastest growing drug problem. According to the Clinton Foundation, in the U.S. one person dies every 19 minutes from a drug overdose, and “overdoses involving prescription painkillers now kill more Americans than those involving heroin and cocaine combined”.
Engaging in prescription drug misuse is a serious issue and to be avoided completely. To combat more tragedies, awareness and understanding is the answer. Check out this incredible campaign the Clinton Foundation launched, in partnership with college newspapers to raise awareness of about prescription drug abuse and misuse: http://www.clintonfoundation.org/blog/2014/01/12/rising-epidemic-college-campuses-prescription-drug-abuse#sthash.MB1AuJjf.dpuf
By: Solome Tibebu