Information for First-Year and Transfer Students and their Families
Creating a Mental Health Plan while Transitioning to College
The transition to college comes with a lot of planning. You select a major and create an academic plan to get to your dream job. You create plans on where you will live and what activities you may be involved in on campus. Just as important is creating a plan for your mental health while in college. Whether you have a long history of mental health care or have never sought treatment, knowing the resources available to you in college is very important. For parents, it is critical to give your student the skills that they need to succeed, including caring for their mental health.
Mental Health concerns are on the rise, specifically in the teenage population. The trends of increased anxiety, depression, and even thoughts of suicide continue to be at the forefront of teenager mental health issues. In addition, the transition to college, while it can be a very positive experience, is often a very stressful one. It is a new environment with new standards and new friendships. This stress can exacerbate existing mental health issues, or cause any student to seek additional support for their mental health.
This brief video describes some of the factors to consider while planning for your mental wellness while in college:
Some factors to consider when developing a mental health plan for college:
- Pick the Right School. Consider these factors listed in the National Alliance for Mental Health article on Managing A Mental Health Condition While In College.
- Location. Some students attend college close to home and commute to classes. This eliminates the disruption of moving and may be the best choice if you're unsure about going far from home.
- Size. Smaller schools may feel less overwhelming and offer smaller classes and a stronger sense of community. Larger schools generally offer a wider array of health services and housing options.
- Living situation. On-campus dormitory housing provides a high level of social support but typically places first-year students with roommates. You may be permitted a single if you can provide sufficient medical documentation (see the section below on disability accommodations). Other options are off-campus housing and living at home.
- School resources. On-campus health clinics and counseling offices offer services for dealing with everyday concerns such as relationship conflicts, adjusting to college and academic issues. They may limit their counseling to a dozen or fewer appointments. On-campus resources are a good place to start when you first develop a mental health problem, but they probably won't be able to provide long-term help. The counselors can help you find a long-term therapist or doctor in the community.
- Community resources. If you are seeing a doctor or therapist you may want to find a new one closer to school to provide therapy or monitor medication.
- Identify Trusted Adults
- Think about adults in your high school life who you trust. This may include parents, counselors, family friends, or mentors. Keep a mental or physical list of these adults and make a plan to stay in touch with them as you transition to college.
- As you transition into college, make a note of adults in your life who you feel comfortable talking to. This may be your academic adviser, a favorite professor, or a counselor.
- Seek out these trusted people to talk to if you are struggling with academics or mental health while in college.
- Look Into Available Resources
- No matter where you decide to attend college, it is important to look into the resources available to you. Investigate their website, talk to admission staff, ask questions at orientation or seek out those adults who you trust to help you.
Resources at Roberts
At Roberts Wesleyan College, we have a number of resources available to students to support their mental health while in college. Students will have an academic adviser, Resident Assistant, and Coach to help guide them while they are on campus.
Our Counseling Center offers short-term, goal focused therapy to all eligible students. This includes individual sessions, group therapy sessions, and limited psychiatric services. Our services are free, confidential, and provided by licensed therapists who have years of experience in the field.
We provide support for students with a range of concerns, from issues with roommates to a diagnosed mental health condition. If your student will require longer term therapy or has a specific diagnosis that is outside of our scope of treatment (i.e. Eating Disorders, Domestic Violence Perpetrator, etc.) they may be referred to the comprehensive mental health network in the greater Rochester Area.
The Counseling Center is located on the top floor of the Voller Athletic Center. Our center is open Monday through Friday from 9am-5pm while classes are in session during the Fall and Spring semesters. We are closed for students over the academic breaks and summer holiday. We are, however, available for consultation during those times. We encourage you to connect with us before your student arrives on campus if you suspect they will require mental health care while they are a student with us. We are here for you every step of the way.
The Learning Center can help students who are experiencing academic stressors. They can provide tools related to time management and studying, connect students with a tutor, and provide accommodations through their Disability Services Coordination. The Learning Center is located on the bottom floor of Golisano Library and can be reached at (585) 594-6270.
Here are some additional resources to Help you in planning for mental health and wellness while in college:
JED Set to Go Program: A guide for the transition from high school to college
Transition From High School to College With A Psychiatric Illness: A guide from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
National Alliance for Mental Health article on Managing A Mental Health Condition While In College
Questions? Contact the student counseling center.