The mental transition to college: What students & parents should know

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Active Minds

Simpson’s chapter of Active Minds held our second meeting last night, where we shared and discussed more ideas about what we hope to accomplish on campus.

One of our goals for next fall is educating the incoming class of freshmen, as well as their parents, about mental health resources on campus and assure them that if ever they need help, help will be available to them.

Students first entering college likely already realize that it’s going to be a stressful time: classes, endless studying, extracurriculars, sports and finding time for friends and relaxation. However, according to recent data, mental health problems have been on the rise for teenagers and young adults throughout the last decade.

In an article on WebMD.com, Stephanie Watson cites data from a 2017 report by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health that found demand for more mental health services on college campuses has increased over the last seven years.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, either.

Watson also cites findings from a survey of over 500 health care professionals who said they had seen more mental health issues among teenagers over the last five years, including anxiety, stress and mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder.

Almost half of the parents surveyed also confirmed that, “their child has been diagnosed or treated for a mental health issue, learning disorder, or substance abuse problem.” Just a little over half said their kids had been to a therapist.

Adolescence and young adulthood has been shown to be a vulnerable time for one’s mental health. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about half of all mental health problems develop by age 14, and three-fourths of such problems develop by age 24.

Watson quotes Stephanie Pinder-Amaker, director of the College Mental Health Program at McLean Hospital and a psychology instructor at Harvard Medical School, who said:

“The college years, developmentally, happen to coincide with the peak period of onset of all psychiatric illnesses. College presents … sort of a perfect storm. You not only have a young person entering the stage where they’re most likely to develop a mental health issue, but you also have a significant amount of stress.”

Throughout the rest of her article, Watson talks about how availability of mental health resources on campus isn’t usually a top priority for students or their parents when they’re deciding on which school to attend.

She also explains how, although roughly one in five teenagers live with a mental health condition, they don’t always communicate it to their families and ultimately go untreated.

At Simpson, Active Minds hopes to be able to open up the conversation about mental health and well-being both for students and their parents. We hope to foster active and ongoing communication between incoming students and their parents so that students will feel more at ease talking about their mental health with their families and peers.

Finally, we hope to create an atmosphere where students feel comfortable to seek the help they need, whether it be due to mental illness or just the stress that inevitably comes from college life.

During our meeting tonight last night, our president Rae Konz, encouraged us to take Active Minds’ online Unity Pledge, where we add our names to the national network of people who have pledged to take positive steps to speak up about mental health issues, listen to those with mental health conditions and work to end the stigma surrounding those suffering from mental illnesses.

To sign the pledge yourself, just follow this link and add your name!


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