Dealing with Mental Illness in College
You’ve chosen your college. You know your move-in date, whether it’s for a dorm or an apartment. Everyone stresses about moving, but you have something else to consider: your mental illness. Doctors, medication, dealing with all the added stress, and handling a mental illness itself can be overwhelming. Luckily there are a few steps you can take to make the transition easier.
Find Treatment Options Beforehand
One of the most terrifying parts of moving while in treatment is finding a new doctor or therapist. It is perfectly normal to continue seeing your original doctor when returning home for holidays. However, continuing treatment while at school is extremely important. Ask your current doctor if they have any suggestions, then do your own research. Do your best at creating a shortlist of options and set up an appointment before you leave. It’ll be one less thing you have to do during your first few crazy weeks of the semester.
Look for School Resources
Many universities offer mental health services (some of which are free!), either as a standalone service or as part of a larger health program. These services usually include counseling, group therapies, and referral to long-term care. Be sure to see if your school offers case management services, where employees help deal with academic issues that may arise during difficult times. Depending on your mental illness, you may also qualify for services with the school’s disability center. You may feel guilty in pursuing these services, but remember: they’re here to help you too!
Talk to Your Professors
You’re probably not the first student your professor has taught who has a mental illness, and who knows, maybe your professors suffers from one as well. Be sure to communicate to them what you may need during the course of the semester. More times than not they are very receptive, though some may ask for some sort of official documentation. This can be provided by your doctor or any of the resources already mentioned.
Surround Yourself with Support
Personal support is important to being successful, especially in school. If you don’t have familial support (it’s okay, a lot of us don’t!), look to friends. You don’t need an army of friends, sometimes one or two genuine friends is more than enough. Don’t shy away from online friends either – internet friends are just as valid as physical ones (and tend to be easier to make). There are also support groups on campus, which are often student-run. When attending these, remember: in some way, everyone there understands what you’re going through.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Help
Whether this means beginning therapy, taking medication, or needing to go to a hospital in times of acute crisis, remember: getting help is good. You are not selfish. You are not overreacting. You need to do what’s best for your health, regardless of what other people say or think. You are strong for seeking help, and everyone is proud of you.