With the start of college less than a month away, you’re likely ticking off your to-do list to ensure that you or someone you love is ready for back-to-school. But is talking about mental illness on that list? If not, it should be.
Seventy five percent of all mental health conditions begin by age 24, making the college years a critical time for understanding and talking about mental health.
“Conversations allow you to plan for the unexpected; to know what to do if you develop emotional distress, a mental health condition or if an existing condition worsens,” notes the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Even if you don’t personally experience a mental illness, your roommate or friend may need help.
To help put a thoughtful plan into place should a mental health condition arise, NAMI and The JED Foundation recommend talking about the following:
1. You’re not alone. Mental health conditions are common; in fact, one in five young adults will experience a mental health condition during college.
2. Self-care at college counts. Your physical health and mental health are connected, so caring for your body will help you take better care of your mind. This means that it’s important to make healthy eating, exercise, and sleep a priority while going to school.
3. Help is out there. It’s important to know that there are both on- and off-campus resources to contact for help and support. For example, if you start to feel overwhelmed, most colleges offer student advisors and/or counseling centers.
4. Health privacy laws exist. These laws can limit communications between campus health care professionals and others on- or off-campus, including parents, unless a student provides consent or poses a substantial risk of harm to self or others. So, be sure to find out if your school has an authorization form.
5. Education is key. Perhaps the best thing you can do for yourself or someone you love is to learn the warning signs. This way, you can know when to reach out for help. Some of the most common mental health conditions among college students include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating)
- Self-harm (cutting, burning)
Do You Need Dual-Diagnosis Treatment?
Co-occurring mental health conditions like depression may exist prior to substance abuse, or develop as a side effect of drug and alcohol dependency. At Family Recovery Specialists, we offer a highly individualized approach for young adults struggling with substance abuse and mental health conditions. Our proven treatment includes family therapy, outpatient rehab, at-risk programs, therapeutic consulting, crisis management and recovery coaching. To learn more, call today: 305-595-7378.