How to ease the transition to college when mental health is a concern

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The transition from high school to college can be daunting, especially for students with mental health issues. But today there are ways to make it easier.

Amy Gatto, Director of Research and Evaluation at active mindsan organization that works to make talking about mental health on campus as natural as talking about physical health.

Survey 2021 By the American College Health Association of nearly 100,000 college students it was found that 16 percent of college men and 33 percent of college women had been diagnosed with anxiety, and 14 percent of college men and 25 percent of college women had been diagnosed with depression.

a study Published in June by the Healthy Mind Network – which conducts research on the mental health of college students – involving more than 350,000 students on 373 campuses between 2013 and 2021 found that The number of students who met criteria for one or more mental health problems in 2021 has doubled since 2013.

An epidemiological study reveals a mental health divide among college students

That came as no surprise to Sarah Lipson, the network’s principal investigator and lead author of the study.

“Living in a new environment away from home often creates stressful and stressful conditions, and we have recently added the stresses of the pandemic into the mix,” says Lipson, a professor of health policy at the Boston University School of Public Health. She adds that for students with a diagnosed mental health condition, their strategy for college success should include creating and implementing a mental health plan (see “10 Tips for Moving to Campus”).

Jayden Singh, a 20-year-old rookie student at the University of Arizona who suffers from the stress and anxiety associated with the academy, is a good example of someone who did the necessary prep work before landing on campus.

Singh, who was a member of Active Minds in high school, said the fact that the University of Arizona had a class for active minds was a “key factor” in his choosing to attend school there. Additionally, before beginning his undergraduate studies in fall 2020, he studied the university’s counseling center site, where he found a robust range of services, including individual and group counseling.

During his first year, classes were away due to the pandemic. Singh lived in the house, but he remembers appreciating a webinar that helped students reframe their situation.

“I can anticipate the next semester with the hope that I will be on campus and be happy that I have a safe place to be in the meantime,” he says.

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Since moving to campus in the fall of 2021, Singh has benefited from one-on-one counseling, among other services.

“I found the uptake … very easy, which was a big factor, and it is for many students, because just getting started with the services can be difficult,” Singh says. In Arizona, the counseling center offers a range of services, including sessions on relaxation skills, exam anxiety, homesickness, and time management.

Treatment and medication

For students who are continuing treatment and/or medication in college and who “may need to change doctors and pharmacies, it is essential that these shifts take place before class…so that students can avoid interruptions in their care when their exciting new college experience is a start, “ says Shabana Khan, MD, the director of telehealth in the division of child and adolescent psychiatry at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine in New York.

Khan, who chairs the American Psychiatric Association’s Telepsychiatry Committee, says changing the rules for telehealth makes it especially critical for students who will be attending college in a different state to see if they’ll be able to continue care with their current therapists.

After the Department of Health and Human Services announced a public health emergency In January 2020, many states and insurance companies expanded the types of health care providers able to see their patients online as well as the types of telehealth services that could be provided.

In some cases, state-specific changes have allowed health care professionals of all types, including psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers, to see patients online even when the patient is out of state.

Pandemic leads colleges to review and improve mental health efforts

Today, however, some insurance companies are beginning to roll back their telehealth coverage, and many providers have been concerned about the end of the flexibility (in July, HHS Renewed 90-day rules) Stop seeing patients from afar. Khan says patients need to review with their providers whether they will be able to continue care before heading off to college. “University counseling centers can help transfer students to new practitioners,” she adds.

One evening this spring, hundreds of undergraduates at Yeshiva University in New York City attended a discussion hosted by the college’s Active Minds class, which featured three students talking about their mental health journeys. The director of the college’s counseling center, Yael Muscat, was proud and not surprised.

“We work with our students to make mental health a safe topic for discussion and help seeking on our campus,” Muscat says. Like many universities, Yeshiva not only relies on students to search for a counseling center but also actively promotes its services, which include Depression screening events, anxiety groups, workshops, and speakers.

At classroom orientations, student volunteers and staff extend a warm welcome to anyone interested in learning more about the center.

Feeling weak, tell someone

Conversations about mental health have become more common since the pandemic began, so find someone who feels safe talking to, says Kelly Davis, associate vice president of Peer and youth advocacy at Mental Health America, which connects people to mental health resources.

Students with mental health concerns should use their early days on campus to introduce themselves to resident counselors, counseling staff, and other students they meet in dorms, classrooms, and the dining hall. These steps will help them develop a community to share their college experiences and to get to grips with whether life in college seems overwhelming, Davis says.

10 Tips for Moving to Campus

1. Study campus options before leaving home. Students with a mental health diagnosis should ask their provider if they can continue their sessions in person or remotely, says Shabana Khan, M.D., MD and director of telehealth in the division of child and adolescent psychiatry at New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine in New York. If not, seek the provider’s advice on whether you should continue counseling with a new provider in college; If yes, contact a campus counseling center for guidance.

2. Review your health insurance. Generally, insurance determines which providers you can see and how much you will pay for visits and medication. Keep in mind that some students change insurance plans when they start college, says Kelly Davis, associate vice president of peer and youth advocacy at Mental Health America, including switching to a less expensive college health plan. If campus providers charge a fee and do not take your insurance, ask if the counseling center offers any free or discounted care and if there are local providers who may take your insurance. Also check if local mental health clinics provide services for free or on a sliding scale. If possible, ask your current provider to talk to your future provider to “keep up with your treatment,” says Khan.

3. Find a counseling center early. Introduce yourself to the staff, especially if you are transitioning to on-campus care. Keep the center’s contact numbers handy in case of an emergency for you or your classmates, or for any questions that arise.

4. Have a treatment plan. According to the Healthy Minds Network, a quarter of college students take mental health medication. It’s important to talk to your doctor about the medications you take, anything to change or add before you leave school, and to fill prescriptions before you head off to campus. Once in college, contact a campus counseling center for assistance with obtaining emergency supplies or assistance in starting prescriptions at a new pharmacy.

5. Prepare for emergencies. Ask counseling center staff whom to contact if you feel stressed, overwhelmed, insecure, or able to harm yourself or others, says Victor Schwartz, senior associate dean for wellness and student life at the City University of New York School of Medicine. Many universities also widely publish about 988, a national suicide prevention hotline launched in July. Students can call or text 988, or call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

6. Opening up with others. Since the pandemic began, conversations about mental health have become more common, so build on that. Davis says campus officials want you to thrive and know that the transition can be difficult. “In your early days, say hello to resident advisors, faculty, advisory staff, and online classmates until you begin to develop a community and feel comfortable sharing how you feel.”

7. Take advantage of other services. Students with mental health concerns, a diagnosed learning disability, or an executive functioning issue should also share these records with the Academic Support Center, says Saul Newman, associate dean for undergraduate education at the American University in D.C.’s School of Public Affairs. In place before the start of the semester, Newman adds.If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a class or assignment as the semester progresses and think you won’t be able to complete it, contact the professor as soon as possible, says Schwartz.

8. Share. Schwartz says that making new friends is the best way to defuse stress and relieve anxiety and depression. Elizabeth Lounzer, 21, who graduated from UCLA this year and was a member of the school’s Active Minds class, says the engagement gave her a safe place to discuss her anxiety with people who understood and cared about what she was feeling.

9. Find your counseling space. Since the beginning of the pandemic, many people have turned to telemedicine, even when the provider and patient are on the same campus. Students should make sure there is a private space for sessions, says Anushka Gupta, 19, a student at New York University. If your room isn’t an option, ask your counseling center, library, or student activity center if there’s a room you can set aside for yourself once a week for sessions.

10. Parents may be a support system for some. Parents, guardians, and family members do not necessarily have to be aware of health issues when a student is 18 or older. If a student wants to involve parents and others in their care, they can ask the counseling center how to lift confidentiality provisions to keep them informed.

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