Every major transition in life can bring stress and other mental health challenges, and college is no exception. It’s important to take the time to care for your mental health in college, and to know how to recognize when you might need help. The following top mental health tips for college students can help you thrive during this significant life transition.
Understanding the Challenges Associated With Mental Health in College
Mental health challenges in college are quite common. Mood disorders are particularly common, along with eating disorders, addiction and suicidal thoughts.
It should be noted that college itself doesn’t necessarily cause all of these issues, but rather many students arrive already having experienced mental health challenges for which they may not have sought treatment. In addition, the broader transition toward adulthood and the need to take on more responsibilities can be stressful enough to trigger mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
There can be many other factors that influence mental health disorders in college students, such as the following:
- Feeling pressure to achieve perfect grades
- Not having the necessary life skills to navigate young adulthood
- Following an intense schedule of classes, schoolwork, activities and internships without the opportunity for breaks
- Being sleep deprived due to long hours and unrealistic goals
- Feeling lost as one tries to define one’s evolving self-identity
- Thinking about the prospect of paying off student loans after graduation
Top Mental Health Tips for College Students
There are many mental health tips for college students that are worth exploring. Not every strategy will work or be appropriate for every person, as we are all unique with differing needs and preferences. Try one or two of the following tips at a time and see what works for you.
It can be difficult to make the transition to college. As you moved upward through the grade levels in high school, you were likely going to class with roughly the same group of students each year. Although there were likely some changes each year to the student population at your high school, you generally knew what to expect from the people around you.
When young adults head off to college, they are immersed in a brand new environment with a whole new population of students they’ve never met before. It can be tough to make new friends. Yet, human beings are social creatures, and social interactions are vital for your mental health.
Build a Routine
It’s all too easy to feel overwhelmed as you’re trying to balance your studies with social commitments and possibly a part-time job or internship. Many people find comfort in structure and routine. Start small, such as by doing one consistent thing at about the same time each day.
Care For Your Physical Health
The mind and body are intertwined, and what affects one can affect the other. It’s important to take time to care for your physical health when on campus. You don’t have your parents there to remind you to eat healthy meals and get some fresh air and exercise, so you’ll have to do it yourself.
Of course, eating nutritious foods and exercising are often the last things you feel like doing when you’re overwhelmed. However, you may be surprised by how much better you feel when you do make the decision to prioritize both your physical and mental health.
Learning to Recognize When You Need Help
These mental health tips for college students can help you cope with mild stress, depression and anxiety. However, they are no substitute for the guidance of a qualified mental health professional.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, don’t hesitate to talk to a clinician at your campus clinic. They may be able to provide counseling services themselves or refer you to someone who can. If you’ve experienced any of the following, it’s time to reach out for help.
- Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Significant and persistent changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Having trouble controlling your emotions (e.g. crying or experiencing angry outbursts often)
- Feeling overwhelmed and feeling as though your life is out of control
- Panic attacks
- Lethargy, lack of energy
- Trouble coping with all of your responsibilities
Depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders can manifest differently from one person to another. You know yourself best, and you can tell when something doesn’t feel right. The sooner you talk to a professional for help, the sooner you can get your life back on track.
If you’re experiencing thoughts of suicide, please get help immediately. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. It’s free, confidential and available 24/7, and web-based chat services are also available.
Are You Thinking of Earning a Mental Health and Wellness Degree?
It’s a great time to consider pursuing a career in counseling. Job growth for substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors is on track to grow by an estimated 25% from 2019 to 2029. 1
At Grand Canyon University, the mental health and wellness of our students, staff and faculty is a top priority. We encourage all members of our learning community to avail themselves of the wellness services at the Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic on campus. Our board-certified healthcare practitioners emphasize holistic, personalized care.
To learn more about joining our Christian learning community, and to explore our degree programs, click on Request Info at the top of your screen.
1 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors in April 2022.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.