If you had physical problems that weren’t getting any better, like stomach pains or headaches, you’d probably tell someone about it or visit a doctor. Emotional health is the same. If stress, anxiety, depression or other overwhelming feelings are interfering with your life and ability to get things done, speak up.
The first step to getting help might simply be talking to a friend or family member. Or you can reach out directly to the counseling center or another professional. As with other health issues, reaching out for help sooner can prevent the problem from becoming worse. Here are some first steps to speaking up and feeling better:
Friends and Family
It can be hard to talk about serious emotional issues with even close friends and family members. Yet opening up to someone you trust is a good first step to feeling better. Just talking about the feelings out loud can make them less frightening and overwhelming. While some students feel like others will look down on them for struggling emotionally, research shows that most friends and parents are very understanding and supportive. If you are nervous about having the conversation, select a time and place to talk that is private and comfortable. Make a commitment to open up about your thoughts or feelings even if it’s hard.
Mental Health Screening
Many of the symptoms of mental health conditions like depression are things everyone experience from time to time. So how do you tell the difference between the manageable emotional challenges of life and other problems? A screening is a quick tool that can help you dig deeper into your thoughts and feelings to find out what might be going on. The results can help you decide if you should reach out for help.
The Jed Foundation’s ULifeline.org offers an anonymous online screening that you can take for yourself or a friend. Many colleges also offer free, in person screenings at their health centers. You can find the contact information for most counseling centers in our CollegeWiki.
Every year, millions of students visit their campus counseling center for help with everything from managing stress to depression to eating disorders. Most schools provide free counseling for a set number of visits. Making the initial phone call is often the hardest part, but students who delay visiting the counseling center report wishing they’d gone sooner for their first visit. Remember, your visit to the counseling center and what you talk there are confidential, except only in very limited circumstances. For more information about some questions to ask around your first apopintment, see the Questions to Ask article.
If you are more comfortable, you can also reach out for help off-campus. Maybe you want to start the conversation with your family doctor or a general practitioner who can refer you to someone. You can also contact local mental health centers or use professional locators like the one provided by the US Department of Health and Human Services. For more information about some questions to ask around your first apopintment, see the Questions to Ask article.
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- Dealing with Setbacks
- Finding Help Off Campus
- Finding Help On Campus
- Getting Help
- Keep Stress in Check
- Medical Leave of Absence
- Mental Health Conditions: Privacy and Telling Others
- Preventing Suicide
- The Basics: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- The Basics: Bipolar Disorder
- The Basics: Alcohol and Drug Dependence and Abuse
- The Basics: Anxiety Disorders
- The Basics: Depression
- The Basics: Eating Disorders
- The Basics: Schizophrenia
- The Basics: Self-Injury (Cutting)
- The Negative Effects of Stress
- Three Important Guidelines for Transitioning with a Diagnosed Condition
- Transferring Treatment to College
- Types of Mental Health Professionals
- What Every Student Needs to Know
- Who Will Struggle with Mental Illness?
- Your First Counseling Appointment: Questions to Ask