Are you startled by the statistic? Going to college is stressful. For the first time most students are responsible for every facet of their lives with limited guidance from peers and parents. College work proceeds at twice the pace of high school studies: a typical 15 week semester covers the material that the same course in high school, even AP, covers in a full year.
Students who suffer from conditions such as anxiety, depression and eating disorders aren’t likely to suddenly go into remission with high school graduation, no matter how well they are doing therapeutically.
College isn’t the time to stop therapy or medication. A plan needs to be in place before arriving on campus for continuing treatment as needed. When choosing a college it is wise to learn about the availability of therapy in the counseling center and whether there are off-campus psychiatrists to monitor medication.
College presents challenges to all students. Many begin to experience anxiety around midterms or finals or when they get their first B or D grade. Others become depressed or anxious during senior year when they realize that they are leaving college for a real job that they may not yet have.
Over the course of their college career, 50% of students will access mental health support. For many, an intervention consists of a few, brief sessions, for others it can be a necessity for longer periods.
Asking for help is a sign of strength, not a weakness. Have the conversation during stressful times in high school so that couneling isn’t seen as the prelude to a lifetime of failure.
FERPA, the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act, assumes that college students are adults and prohibits professors, financial aid offices, registrars, health and counseling centers from disclosing information to parents. Consider having your student waive their FERPA rights so that should she/he require hospitalization or outside intervention, you can be notified. A therapist or physician won’t contact you without first discussing it with the student, but the waiver will facilitate the contact.
Below is a link to an article on mental health and college students that appeared in the Wall Street Journal recently. Everyone should read it.