About Mental Health

How College Students Can Take Care of Their Mental Health

The start of the school year means that college students—and their parents—are preparing for arriving on campus and beginning the semester. But many have not considered what tools they will need to support their mental health and well-being.

They should. The number of students struggling is on the rise. According to the CDC, more than 1 in 3 high school students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness in 2019. That’s a 40% increase since 2009.

But there are steps students can take to help protect their mental health as they transition to college.


Explore What Resources and Support Are Available

Knowing what services your college offers can help you create a plan for ensuring your emotional and mental health needs are supported throughout the school year. Some good questions to ask before you arrive on campus include:

  • What services are provided?
  • Are there a maximum number of sessions allowed per year?
  • Is there a counselor on call 24 hours a day? If not, what after-hours emergency services are available?
  • What accommodations are available through disability services for students with emotional disorders?
  • What is the school’s policy on taking leaves of absence?
  • Are there other types of support available, like text lines or resident advisers?
  • Does the counseling center provide off-campus referrals?

Connect Early With Your College’s Counseling Resources

Consider contacting the college or university’s counseling center or other mental health resources before you arrive on campus. This is particularly important for those who already have an emotional disorder or other mental health concerns. Some colleges’ counseling centers will even begin seeing students before classes start, allowing students to put into place the supports they need before the stress of the semester begins.

Embrace Other Forms of Support

Don’t underestimate the positive impact other forms of support can have on your mental health. Tutoring, academic and peer advising, education support services, career counseling, and student activities can all help you get your questions answered, find the support you need and reduce the stress and anxiety of transitioning to college.

Connect With Other Students

Many college students report feelings of loneliness and isolation, which contribute to mental health issues. That’s why connecting with other students is so important. Spend some time looking at the school’s extracurricular activities and clubs, and thinking about how to engage with others while on campus. And while many students opt to live alone if possible, having a roommate can expand your social network and help you establish connections with others, especially when you first arrive on campus.

Get Enough Sleep

The demands of school work, family, friends and extracurriculars like sports mean many students fall into not getting nearly enough sleep in high school. But the pace of the college is different, and students can take advantage of that to get more sleep. For example, classes may not start as early as they did in high school or you may find it easier to go to bed earlier without lots of evening activities. And regularly getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night can go a long way to helping to maintain your mental health.

Take Care of Yourself

The transition to college can often bring many new experiences and routines for students. Instead of eating home-cooked meals, they may be eating in a cafeteria or food court. Many students stay active in high school by playing sports, but those activities can fall by the wayside in college. Taking care of yourself and making sure you’re meeting your physical and psychological needs can go a long way toward helping reduce anxiety and stress. That can look different for different people, but the important thing is that you pay attention to your body and your needs and create healthy routines that ensure those needs are met.


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