We at The Jed Foundation hope everyone had a productive, enjoyable and restorative summer. As the new academic year is upon us, it is important to take a few moments to make sure that you are ready for the emotional challenges and opportunities of college life.
College is about learning and growing. In order to do this most effectively your physical and emotional health need to be in good condition. Here are some steps you can take to support your success:
Get educated about your education
Use academic advisers and get to know your professors by meeting with them during office hours. Knowing what is expected of you academically and using academic support resources will help to limit academic stress and help you to be more efficient as a student. RAs and student mentors (if your campus has a mentoring program) are also a great way to find out how things work.
Get educated about campus health resources
As a college student, you will need to take more responsibility for your health. Find out about health services and counseling services. Where are they located on campus? What services do they provide? What hours are they open? What should you do if you or a friend has a health emergency? It is a great idea to have campus public safety and emergency numbers in your phone as contacts.
Get educated about your health
If you have any health or mental health conditions already, you should know what these problems are and what you are doing to treat them (what medicines, special diet needs, or exercise/activity restrictions you may have). You should also make sure you know what health insurance you have and have a copy of the card (it is important to have health insurance-while most campuses health and counseling services are free, if you need care outside of the school services, you will need to pay for this).
Get educated about yourself
For many college students, this will be the first time that you are primarily responsible for managing your basic daily needs (sleep, food and drink, money, clothing and laundry for example) and this new-found freedom and responsibility can present some challenges.
Make sure you know how to handle your finances and do your laundry. Think about how you will handle sleep and food for yourself. Many (maybe, most) students don't get enough sleep and eat irregularly. This can have a negative impact on health, mood and functioning.
Try to make sensible decisions about alcohol and other substance use- while being independent is exciting, being with new people can also be anxiety provoking. Both these things can make it seem enticing to party. But being intoxicated can be dangerous physically and can make you vulnerable to being taken advantage of or hurt by others.
College lasts for several years. You don't have to do everything at once. Take your time in getting involved in extracurricular activities. See how much free time you have. Get to know a few people and settle in. Doing one or two clubs or activities is a great way to meet others with similar interests but you also need to find out how much free time you will have and how much time your courses require.
Ask for help if you need it
Starting school is exciting, confusing, exhilarating, frustrating and can be a little scary. If you are having anxiety, sadness, or substance use that is worrying you or making it difficult for you to function or seems dangerous in any way, please ask for help. There are people on campus to help you.
If you are in an urgent crisis, call 911, campus emergency services or the National Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
To learn more about college student mental health and The Jed Foundation, please visit: www.jedfoundation.org