Fantastic opportunities and experiences await you during your first year at college. But all of that transition — new relationships, different academic expectations, roommates — can be stressful in ways you didn’t expect.
This can be a challenging time for anyone, but for students with a history of emotional or mental health concerns, it can be understandably more complex.
Willamette's Bishop Wellness Center and The Jed Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to protect emotional health in young adults, offer tips for high school students before they graduate:
Self review. Think about long term treatment goals and services. Meet with your mental health providers, counselors and/or supportive adults to figure out what resources you’ll need — and want — at college or wherever you may go after high school. Preparation makes a huge difference in making the transition less stressful.
Identify campus resources. Find out what each location offers in terms of support such as emergency and counseling services, available special services and the nearest professional who can prescribe medication.
Every campus will have varying options for care, so it’s not advised to make assumptions. Bishop Wellness, for instance, doesn’t provide assessment and on-going medication management for mental health conditions.
If you’re taking medication for a mental health condition, develop a plan for refills and adjustments as needed. Check with your insurance carrier, too, to find participating providers in your new city — some primary care providers will continue management of existing mental health medication support.
Determine your care team. Do you want to start with a new team of providers or maintain your current one?
Starting fresh can take longer than expected. Wait times for initial appointments can be several weeks — and in some cases, months — so figure out what you can sacrifice. Some medical professionals offer consultations over phone and Skype.
Develop daily wellness plan. Prioritize self-care in your schedule. Stress, anxiety and sleep difficulties are the top three things Willamette students identified as leading to poor academic performance, and that can be true anywhere. Of the three, sleep might be the most important — if you feel rested, you’re better equipped to ease stress and anxiety.
Bishop Wellness Center offers free, confidential health and counseling services to students, including:
- Preventative, primary, urgent and follow-up care regardless of insurance coverage
- Short-term counseling services for students experiencing conditions including stress, anxiety, identity development, depression, problem-solving, oppression, relationship concerns, adjustment, values clarification and family conflict
- Bishop offers counseling appointments including full-intake, regularly-scheduled, short-term follow-up, daily walk-in, crisis and consultation appointments. It also offers case management services and a 24/7 telephone crisis counseling line.
- 98point6, a free, text-based primary care service available to undergraduate students
- Mind spa — a private room in the wellness center that features a multi-function, fully-reclining leather massage chair, full-spectrum light and biofeedback computer program that teaches students how to moderate their stress response through interactive video games.