School is officially underway and now it’s far enough in the year that college kids are likely realizing it’s not all about partying. College is one of the most influential and stressful times in a young person’s life. Unfortunately, many university students begin to experience negative mental health symptoms during this period. However, there are a few things students can do to be proactive about their mental health in college.
Many students begin to experiment more with drugs and alcohol once they enter college. This occurs for a couple of reasons. For one, there is more of an atmosphere where partying is acceptable. Another reason is to relieve stress caused by the pressure to perform in college. Some students may also use stimulants like ADD medication to cram for midterms or finals. Self-medicating with drugs and alcohol can be dangerous. Left unchecked, it can lead to a substance abuse problem or prevent you from seeking help. If you’re struggling mentally, reach out to a professional rather than taking matters into your own hands. Many colleges have student health clinics with counselors experienced with substance misuse, who can make recommendations for treatment as well.
For many teenagers, going to college means moving out on their own for the first time. During high school, teenagers have parents and teachers looking out for their well-being, but in college that falls onto you. Don’t forget to take care of yourself during the school year. Eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, and make time for friends and relaxing activities. Proper sleep hygiene, diet, exercise, and social interaction are all things that contribute to better mental health in college. Practicing self-care has a direct correlation to improved mood and decreased stress.
Asking for help can be one of the hardest things a person can do. Luckily many colleges these days have free mental health resources to help out students. Don’t worry about being judged for seeking professional help – chances are you know someone who is going through similar struggles. Mental health in college should be a high priority, because it is one of the times in your life that mental health issues are most likely to appear. Many people who go on to develop a substance abuse problem begin their addiction while in college. In addition, some mental health conditions, like bipolar disorder emerge during early adulthood, when someone would be enrolled in college. Remember, asking for help doesn’t make you weak, it takes strength to admit you cannot do something alone.
It’s amazing how much better you feel once you have talked about what’s bothering you. Don’t feel you have to hide your struggles from your friends and family. Chances are they will support you. Plus, you never know. You speaking out could give someone else silently struggling the courage to get help themselves.
At the Delray Beach psychiatry offices of Dr. Raul Rodriguez, we have experience treating adolescents and emerging adults for substance abuse and mental health issues. If you feel like you are struggling, contact us with any questions or concerns. Dr. Rodriguez offers many outpatient mental health services in Delray Beach and Boca Raton, with flexible scheduling that can fit around college classes.