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Going off the college can be a tough time

By Beth Williams • Aug 20, 2018 at 1:00 PM

It is that time of year again.

Our young adult students are packing up their belongings and moving away to college. Many students have strong support systems that include friends and family. Not all students are that fortunate. College campuses are required by federal law to offer counseling services to anyone who requires them. That is a good thing because a 2017 report by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health found the demand for counseling among students has risen steadily over the past seven years.

The most common ailments treated are anxiety and depression. While most parents focus on academic and financial needs, untreated depression and anxiety can take a toll on the students’ academic performance. This can lead to poor grades, a higher chance of drop out, increased use of drug and alcohol and higher risk of suicide. Parents can investigate what the college offers using the website or by calling and asking what counseling options are available. It is best to know before the need arises.

An estimated one in five youth are living with a mental health condition. Oftentimes, family are the last to know, because youth often hide their feelings. What can parents do to help with the transition and time away from home to ensure their student are happy and healthy? Talk openly to your student, ask how they are feeling using open-ended questions so they have to respond with more than a one-word answer. Once the student is settled at campus, set up a time to talk. Cell phones, texting and Skype or FaceTime can help bridge the distance between home and school. Encourage your student to follow the steps for good mental health:

• Exercise regularly

• Eat healthy food

• Interact with friends

• Take care of yourself, get enough sleep

• In regards to alcohol use, if you choose to drink, do not binge drink

If the student does feel stressed, overwhelmed or anxious, encourage them to reach out for help by texting ‘4hope’ to 741741 or calling 800-826-1306. For more information please call the board office at 419-668-8649.

Dr. Beth B. Williams is executive director of the Huron County Board of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

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