Struggling in College: Our Mental Health Advocacy & Consultation Services for Students
If you or your child is struggling in college, it may be about more than academic habits or aptitude. College students experience mental health issues at a greater rate than any other age group, and these issues often cause academic and social problems when students go off to college or university.
If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or committing suicide, call your campus emergency line (check the college’s website for availability and info) or one of the following:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- Crisis Text Line: Text “NAMI” to 741-741
NeuroHealth Arlington Heights offers a range of support services for college students beginning with college application and admissions consulting and including assessment, treatment, and advocacy. If you or your college student need help dealing with mental or emotional issues that are impacting college success, contact NeuroHealth Arlington Heights today to explore treatment options.
Mental Health Issues are Common in College—and Undertreated
There are three important things to know about college students’ mental health.*
- Mental health problems are common: Studies show that many college students struggle with mental health issues that can affect college success.
- 4 in 5 college students feel stressed or overwhelmed by school.
- 50% of students feel anxiety.
- 50% of students rate their mental health as below average or poor.
- 30% believe their academics have suffered because of a mental health issue.
- Too few students seek help: Despite the high rates of mental health problems, 40% of students do not seek help. This means the emotional, social, and academic impacts of the problem will be compounded. As a consequence, some students are put on academic probation; some even drop out.
- Parents rarely know what’s going on: Only 7% of parents know their college student is struggling with mental health issues.
Typical Mental Health Issues in College
While anxiety and depression are certainly common among college students, as with the general population, there are many other conditions that can adversely affect college success, including:
- Learning disabilities, including dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia
- Eating disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Suicidal thoughts
Conditions such as ADHD and learning disabilities are often diagnosed some time in a child’s K–12 career, but conditions like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia may not emerge until early adulthood. It is important, therefore, to take distressing symptoms seriously and to seek a professional neuropsychological assessment to identify potential problems.
Stress in School: Common Causes
The stressors college students experience can produce real emotional and mental problems including inhibited emotion and cognition and substance abuse. Many young adults are experiencing new levels of responsibility for the first time in their lives.
- Living away from home for the first time
- Adjusting to a new social and/or cultural environment
- Negotiating a new normal for long-distance family and friend relationships
- Making healthy eating, exercising, and sleeping choices
- Choosing classes and a course of study
- Passing classes
- Worrying about covering the costs of college through maintaining scholarships and working a part-time job
- Balancing life, school, work, and social life
- Managing their own finances
- Forming and building new social and romantic relationships
- Preparing for life after college
Many of these challenges can be met with adequate knowledge, discipline, and support (see our list of 5 Reasons Your Child is Struggling in College—and what to do about them).
Coping with Stress in College
If you feel stress or suffer from a mental illness but do not take active, healthy steps to manage it, chances are you will fall into unhealthy behaviors such as alcohol and drug abuse. For example, some 20% of college students meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder. Abuse of hard drugs like heroin and cocaine or prescription drugs like Vicodin and Percocet happens at smaller rates, but the rates are rising quickly.
When someone abuses a substance for the sake of managing a mental illness, it is called self-medicating. Cutting and other forms of self-harm or self-stimulating behaviors can also be forms of managing an underlying mental disorder.
If a mental disorder has gotten to the point that you are self-medicating or engaging in harmful self-stimulating behaviors, you should seek professional help.
Some stressors can be reduced or even eliminated with lifestyle changes. These may be difficult to implement, but the benefits to your health and well-being will be worth it.
Identify what is causing you stress and what behaviors or habits are a consequence of stress, then make changes slowly and thoughtfully.
Common lifestyle changes include:
- Eating a more well-rounded diet
- Practicing good sleep hygiene, i.e., going to sleep on a schedule and getting enough sleep
- Regular exercise
- Changing your course load
On-campus support options can be great resources to help students who are struggling in college. Resident assistants (RAs) and campus groups such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) can provide a first-line-of-defense listening ear as well as connect students to the help they need.
Many colleges have on-campus counseling centers that can provide short-term therapy or help students find external resources.
Off-Campus Support: The NeuroHealth Advantage
The NeuroHealth team provides neuropsychological assessments and treatments that can help college students get to the root of their mental and emotional problems. NeuroHealth provides support above and beyond the purview of most on-campus counseling centers.
We assess the student and develop a treatment plan that goes back to school with her. Plans can include remote services as well as consulting with school counselors or student services departments.
In addition, we can advocate for your student to help her get access to the resources she needs, from mental health services to academic accommodations. (Elsewhere, we have discussed possible academic accommodations for college students with learning disabilities. Contact us for more specific guidance for your student.)
Students and parents choose us, too, precisely because we are off-campus. It is true: On-campus counselors will protect your privacy and confidentiality. However, some students appreciate the peace of mind in keeping school separate from their private life; and for this privacy reason, students and their families choose us.
College Mental Health Services: FAQs
Will my child’s IEP or 504 follow them to college?
No. IEPs and 504s are both created by specific laws. In the case of IEPs, the law (the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA) no longer applies beyond K–12, and while Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act continues to protect students from discrimination throughout college, any plans you may have created in high school would not go with him.
How does NeuroHealth help students receive academic accommodations?
We begin with a neuropsychological assessment that gives us a picture of the student’s strengths and weaknesses. Then we build a plan that includes relevant and appropriate academic support.
Our experienced team will communicate with the school and advocate on behalf of the student to get her the accommodations she needs to succeed.
Accommodations may include preferential testing services, technology improvements, or having a note-taker in class with the student. In many cases, we have helped college students get superior accommodations to those they had in high school.
Does NeuroHealth Arlington Heights offer remote therapy appointments?
Yes! We can use video software such as Skype to conduct remote appointments. This means we can continue to provide psychotherapy and counseling services to students anywhere in the world.
What role do parents play in the college accommodations or counseling process?
Parents do not need to be involved in most of this process. This is a matter both of convenience and confidentiality.
NeuroHealth can reach out to the relevant departments at the college, deal with the paperwork, and schedule any remote appointments with the student.
We’ll make sure treatment runs smoothly.
Contact NeuroHealth to Stop Struggling in School
Though many college students experience some form of mental or emotional stress, no two circumstances are the same. NeuroHealth will give you individualized treatment and ensure you get the accommodations you need so you can succeed in school. Contact us today.
* Statistics taken from a 2012 National Alliance on Mental Illness study.