Each year, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) devotes the first week of October to raising awareness of mental illness. This year’s theme, “Into Mental Health: Inspired, Informed, Involved,” will focus on the power of starting inspiring conversations, getting informed to know the right thing to say and encouraging people to proudly proclaim that they are #IntoMentalHealth!
Millions of Americans are affected by mental health conditions every year, according to NAMI. And three quarters of individuals develop the condition by age 24, making the college years a prime time to mind your mental health. Mental Illness Awareness Week is the perfect time to get educated, get inspired, and get the support you need.
Whether you already know that you have a mental illness, or find yourself experiencing one for the first time in college, NAMI provides some actions to help you succeed in school and safeguard your mental health. Here’s a summary of some tips to get you started:
- Maintain and build support systems. College provides the perfect opportunity to make new friends and create new support systems through clubs and classes. And if you’re feeling homesick, be sure to call home but also reach out to those around you. Chances are, they may be missing home, too, and will welcome a new friend, says NAMI.
- Monitor your symptoms. Tracking mood and anxiety levels as well as eating or sleeping patterns will help you get a better handle on your mental health. If you notice your symptoms steadily worsening, don’t wait to consult a doctor or therapist.
- Practice healthy habits. Don’t let exercise, diet, and sleep fall by the wayside. The NAMI recommends aiming for seven to nine hours per night for more energy. This will give you more energy, help you focus better and keep you emotionally resilient. Another tip: Plan ahead for the health challenges of dining hall food and late-night study sessions, says NAMI.
- Manage academic stress. Do a little research to find out what on-campus supports are available to help with study skills and time management. For example, study groups, tutors, or campus writing centers. It’s also smart to experiment with a few time management techniques to see what works best for you.
- Get educated. College is the perfect time to learn more about the brain and mental illness. If possible, enroll in a psychology class next semester. Knowledge increases your sense of power over your illness, notes the NAMI.
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