College Mental Health Tips for Students and Parents
Updated: Feb 16, 2020
Summer is coming to an end, and I hope it has treated you all well. I had a great summer filled with outdoor time, lots of yoga, while also finding time to be quiet and still.
This month, I was motivated to write to Young Adults who are either headed off to college for the first time or who are returning.
Mental Health has become a more approachable topic within this population and among college communities. Even more so, than when I was an undergrad. The openness towards a dialogue about Mental Health throughout college is a tremendous shift in progress about our collective understanding regarding how Mental Health affects us ALL.
College is said to be one of the most transitional and transformative times of our lives. Though this is subjective, I think we can generally agree these are years where we are physically, emotionally, and socially tested in a myriad of ways. All while facing new challenges, we are working overtime at negotiating our independence and individuation.
In helping you along this journey, here are some questions I thought would help produce some personal insight into how you want to show up for yourself, as not only a college student but as a maturing Young Adult. I encourage you to journal some of these prompts to see what insight you will gain.
How has a student can you set yourself up for emotional, academic, and social success?
How will you manage your personal Mental Health as you navigate through new experiences, and responsibilities? Pick three words to describe how you see yourself facing specific new scenarios.
What kind of support are you wanting? Describe what you want this support to look like and from which family and friends. Are you open to having the additional help of a therapist?
What are some of the personal goals and habits you would like to incorporate into your daily life, which will help you manage your responsibilities easier? How can a regular self-care practice help with this?
How can you hold yourself accountable for knowing what your personal boundaries are in regards to keeping yourself emotionally and physically healthy?
How can you be responsible for your safety and sense of risk management, when you see other risky behavior surrounding you? How can you hold yourself accountable to your standards of safety?
How can you gain new connections and build community likenesses with others? How will having friendships with individuals who share your interests serve you? How can you find ways not to find yourself feeling isolated?
Where can you seek support which will make you feel heard, and understood? Is there an advisor, professor, or someone perhaps older who might feel like a good mentor for you?
Again these prompts are meant to be helpful while helping you generate personal insight. Having an awareness of how you want to see yourself thriving will serve you very well. I encourage you to keep yourself open to the ideas you gain while removing any judgment that may come along. We are lucky when we have good emotional intelligence, and it is our responsibility to nurture it.
See every new challenge ahead of you as an opportunity. An opportunity to learn not only about how things play out, but how you react and respond. Be kind to yourself as you grow, knowing that the times we are uncomfortable are often times of genuine growth.
It is ok to be afraid. When we are vulnerable, it can be scary, but that doesn't mean we aren't capable of sticking it out during these temporary periods. You are capable more of what you know of, so think about each challenge you have as an opportunity to thrive in your many capabilities.
Lastly, reach out for support. There is nothing more empowering you can do for yourself than to seek the support you need. Whether that is through a trusted friend, professor, or therapist take note of the gift you are giving yourself. It's hard to grow, and we ALL need support.
Okay over to the Parentals :)
I thought I would use some of this BLOG to address you as well and the emotional adjustments you may be feeling as your children go to college.
Of course, you are always wanting to come from a place of helping your child, while not being a hindrance to their growth. However, this can become complicated and hard as parents depending on how close and enmeshed you might be with your child.
Boundaries that weren't in place before might become necessary for both you and your child.
This does not have to be a scary development, but instead a chance for you each of you to grow in new ways that might not have been possible in the past.
I also have some journal prompts for you, that I hope to assist you as you adjust to the physical and emotional changes that you may experience. You can also use these as a guide to have an open discussion with other parents or your spouse/partner who might also be in need for guidance in coping with this adjustment.
How, as a parent, can I be supportive in my child's emotional and social growth? How do I see myself being supportive, and how do I not see myself being supportive? How can I find room towards accepting my child and their vulnerabilities?
How can I bring awareness to the strengths I believe my child has while encouraging them to embrace and use their gifts?
Even though I might not understand how my child is feeling about a particular issue, how can I make sure I am doing my best to connect with them with genuine authenticity?
How does my self-care as a parent serve me throughout this adjustment? How does my self-care practice sustain me?
How can I be a loving and supportive parent without agreeing with my child on what they choose? How can I put my self-interests aside to give them as much room as possible to grow?
Family dynamics change for everyone when a child goes off to college. This is a time for growth, and to do our best at not resisting it. If this is missing, we are doing ourselves and our children a disservice. We deserve to be open and flexible as this process unfolds. Both parents and children can thrive together during this new stage in life. The question remains to be is, How are you going to find ways to succeed together while continuing to support each other's goals?
This is a time of significant adjustment, however again if we embrace and are open to new possibilities, beautiful things will be sure to UNFOLD.
Again I am here to answer any questions, and will provide more resources on this expanding topic!