The most important thing to realize for anxious parents sending their children off to colleges is that every college and university will offer some level of wellness and mental health services. Schools that offer graduate programs in social work, marriage and family therapy, and psychology will usually have some students working under supervision while gaining experience as counselors.
Schools will have licensed psychologists and social workers to help with one to one therapy, couples therapy and counseling related to physical health and wellness. This is important for most schools, but it may not be well advertised. Students practicing independence for the first time will encounter many opportunities to practice coping skills, and the university is there to offer support if the student seeks it out. The treatment can be free or low cost to help the students that cannot afford private counselors in the community.
If an incoming freshman already has medication and a diagnosis, it would be wise for the family or the student to check out the services available for them. If a student has an issue they should be aware of where to go on campus. Clinics have small pharmacies and can fill prescriptions if a student does not come with a large amount of medication.
Colleges know the stress that higher learning can have on students, and most will offer many free activities to enjoy throughout the week. Most all campuses have wellness and fitness centers with classes for working out or learning about healthy living. These services are also free for students. Dorm residents have organized activities to bring students out of their rooms to interact. Student advisers are available to help students that are feeling academic stress, and can make referrals to other services on campus.
Mental wellness usually involves moderation of entertainment and academics. When one or the other gets out of balance, life might seem more difficult in a campus environment. As parents, we should be checking in with our students but not crowding them. This is their time to experience parenting at a distance and to spread their wings. One thing parents can do to prepare their children is to have them practice the life skills like laundry and budgeting before they leave for school. Cooking and organization should be strange concepts to freshman.
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Dr. Ethan Gregory
Written for LitteMissMomma
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