How do I cope with my mental illness in college?
Last Updated: 01/28/2019 at 3:14pm
Lauren Abasheva, LMHC
Licensed Professional Counselor
A sex positive, and kink knowledgeable therapist with an open mindset and a clear understanding that we are all different.
Top Rated Answers
The stress of college can be really hard if you have a mental illness. Some people have a relatively easy time in college and some people go through a lot of hard times in college also. You're at an age where figuring life out can also lead to a lot of stress. The number one most important thing is to make sure to make time for some self care. This could be anything you enjoy or anything that helps put your mind more at ease, even temporarily. For example, working out, meditation, colouring, netflix etc. Also make the time to appreciate the things that you did well, like scoring well on a test or staying motivated. Another important thing I think is to try to follow a schedule or routine in some things as much as you can. This can help with the stress and can prevent you from spending too much time on netflix or procrastinating your school work. Its all about balance. Also make sure you have a good support network. If you don't have one, join a club or 2 and do what you can to try to find people to talk to or spend time with. The worst thing is feeling lonely in college and if you are prone to mental illness, not having a good support doesn't help. I personally struggled with mental illness throughout college and these are things I WISH I had started doing ever since my first year. I know everyones situation may be different but hopefully some of these ideas can be helpful :)
Try to find out if your college has a counseling center on campus. If they do, the counselors are trained and more than willing to assist you in working through your mental illness and doing school at the same time. Be mindful and identify your stressors and develop coping skills to help take care yourself. If you do not have a college counselor, look for mental health providers in the area. Also, if you are taking medication, make sure to take it as prescribed. Its also best to develop a strong support system. Joining student organizations and volunteering for activities on campus or off campus in the community are great ways to meet other people. There could be others who are coping with their mental illness, maybe you could start or see if there is a support group for that. Most importantly, have faith and confidence in yourself to be able to cope and succeed.
Make use of the resources that are in place at the college (or in your life) and find them early in the semester. Keep watch over your stress levels. You might need to take a reduced course load or build time into your life for activities that help you de-stress Speak to your professors or TAs ahead of time that you have a mental illness that may affect your ability to get work in on time. Realize that semesters have an ebb of flow of work. There are periods in which there will be nothing to do and periods in which you will have a lot of work to do at once. These usually occur around midterms and finals.
This has definitely been a difficult thing in my personal experience. One thing that I wish I would've considered was getting help earlier. It's not worth prolonging your progress by avoiding your issues. Acceptance is key. Afterwards make sure you USE your campus' resources! Often they have many organizations/clubs that help you stay on track as well as reduced cost counseling and psychiatry. Check out to see if you have group sessions! Those are usually free!! Make sure to talk to your family and friends, don't let your mental illness isolate you. If you need a day or two to stay in bed and just sleep, that's okay! Just don't let it take over your life and your school work. It's not easy, but it's definitely doable. I just graduated college with a degree in biology with depression&anxiety and as a sexual assault survivor. It is possible!! Just stay focused and don't give up. If you're brought down, just keep getting back up. ❤️
I found it really difficult coping with mine in college, especially when it was in its earlier stages. I only completed a year then stopped, it was far too much, but I know now that that's okay. Sometimes you need a break or a change. My tutor helped a lot, they're the first point of call and they're there for you to talk and confide in for any issues, it's not as easy as it sounds, I know, but that's what they're there for, they can find ways of making things easier for you to cope with, either in class or in general. It's easy to get stressed there, so maybe finding a place that's quiet for times like that, I often went to the library, which helped. If you have frees and no work, a short walk can help enough for you to focus. There's no sure way of coping, leaving notes for yourself in files or on sticky notes may help, reassure yourself, you're doing great, support yourself and believe in yourself. Sometimes seeing a note you forgot about can make all the difference. I do hope you find something that works for you, hopefully you'll have lots of good days instead of bad, but keep searching for things that work for you, there will be something. :)
Try to meet new people and to stay busy and engaged! Join some organizations on campus like TWLOHA or educational groups, also remember to take time for yourself and that if you feel overwhelmed, it is okay to take a break. College does not have to be completed in four years and for a lot of people, it is not. Remember that you are not alone because SO many other people are feeling the exact same way you are. You can do this, I believe in you. :)
Every campus has a health and wellness center, check it out, it's amazing, free counselling is often offered, as well as all kinds of programs to help. They might have doctors on-site, or phychiatrists. Also,theres also usually an accessibility office for students with disabilities. Mental illnesses are considered a disability and to make things fair for you, they will give you extra time on your exams and papers.
Be transparent with the school and professors if you can, they will compensate for the extra time that you may need, but they can't read your mind. Be realistic and set goals for yourself that you know you can achieve. Try not to base your self-worth on your academic success; everything you do may not be marked fairly and will certainly not represent your skills or intelligence. Make sure 'you' come first and plan your studies accordingly so that you can have work life balance. Lastly, and most importantly, make sure you maintain good physical health because it impacts your mental health. Make sure to eat often, healthily, exercise, and get enough sleep. If you do not take care of these things, it will make your mental health worse.
To deal with mental illness in college, you need to take care of certain things like, 1. Build a small group of close friends who can be there for you when you need them. So, couple of friends can help you in your darkest moments. 2. Figure out what keeps you happy and relieved. And, do that thing quite often or include it in your daily routine so that your stress level keep reduced. 3. Whenever you feel you're stressed and getting nervous, take deep breathes and feed your mind with positive thoughts to distract your mind. 4. Consult expert and stay connected with him/her so that they can better guide you to cope up with your mental illness. However, understand that you really can deal with the illness and it has prevention and cure. So, never overthink about it.
Reach out to as many resources as you can! Your RA, your professors, the tutoring center, the counseling center, or even the disability services center if you feel comfortable. The administration wants you to succeed in college. They can help you get adjustments or extensions on assignments, or even housing that is better for you. Reach out and you'll be surprised what resources you can receive.
By asking for help. When you are entering college or university its almost like you are opening a relationship between you and the school - you're a big part of each others lives, you interact regularly, and you both have certain mutual expectations and hopes for each other - the key one with college, being that you do well and graduate - and the most essential component in achieving that is your well-being. So what's the most important process in facilitating any relationship? Communication! I have witnessed and experienced the power of asking for help in education so many times and the vast majority of teachers are more than happy to help. Start by informing them of you condition, this awareness that the teacher knows can be relieving as from that point on you know that they know why you may struggle in class/ attending class sometimes, and they'll be more understanding about it. Then if they ask (Even if they don't then tell them) what your needs are as through simple accommodation of these needs your enjoyment and ability to engage in education will go way up - and they want that! Just never be afraid to ask for help. If you think counselling would be a good option then a lot of colleges provide it - and if you later decide you don't need it then that's fine too! just don't be afraid to ask when you're considering it.
This is a very good question. Many colleges provide counselling services for students to deal with such issues. It depends on where you are and if such colleges are available around you. Before taking admission in any college, students should check this aspect too. If your college offers such services, it's great. But if it doesn't, then you need to talk it out with your teachers. Someone who understanding and listens. They might help you with it. Some things you can ask for are , asking for some student to help you with notes or other work, asking to sit on the desk near the door so you can go out if you are feeling unwell and seek help without disturbing others , asking for extra classes or for just small listening sessions to help you out. Although these are small things which could be done, some colleges might not be so well equipped and might have staff which doesn't understand mental illness. Their lack of awareness might come out aggressively and go against you. For example, I was called mad after telling my college staff I suffered from depression. In such cases it's your choice if you wish to share or not. As we don't really want to be targeted for being vulnerable. Whatever the atmosphere of your college is, it's just a time where we stay for temporary time to build our career, so better aim at that and get out of it sooner. You can also look for NGO or any friends or other options like 7 cups for dealing with college stress. I wish you luck. ☺️👍
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