What Parents Need to Know About College Students and Mental Health

college students

For most U.S. colleges and universities, first-year applications are accepted in the fall, and decisions are made in the spring. Applicants can respond at any point before May 1st to secure their spot. May 1st is considered National College Decision Day, which is when first-year students commit to a college.

Since this day is coming up quickly, you’ve probably had conversations with your student about college. But for parents, there’s more to college than picking out classes and shopping for dorm room supplies. Parents also need to know about mental health, how to support their student when they’re away and where to find child mental health services in Princeton NJ

Depression and Anxiety Rising Among College Students 

Up to 44 percent of college students report having symptoms of depression and anxiety. Suicide is also the third leading cause of death for college students. It’s clear that many college students suffer from mental health problems, but why is this the case? 

A few factors that may contribute to depression and anxiety in young people are increased societal pressures to achieve success and students not being equipped with necessary life skills. As a result, their mental health and well-being are suffering. 

As this Mayo Clinic article points out, students are arriving for their first day of classes and are increasingly less prepared to handle the demands. Plus, the rising costs of college tuition have placed enormous financial pressure on students and families. This places unnecessary stress on students to push their limits and perform well.

Additional risk factors that could trigger a bout of depression or anxiety in college students are: 

  • Relationship breakups
  • Peer relationship difficulties 
  • Sexual identification adjustment 
  • Sexual assault 
  • Drug or alcohol use 
  • Family history of depression 
  • Stressful life events 
  • Fears of disappointment 
  • Comparisons among peers
  • Social media use 

How Parents Can Support Their Child Before Sending Them to College 

This Today article asked experts in mental health and higher education fields to weigh in on some of the best ways parents can support their college students. Here is what they recommend: 

Start working on self-advocacy skills. 

Before your child goes to college, start thinking about what skills they will need to succeed. This is especially important if your child is already struggling with anxiety or academic challenges. Then start building self-advocacy skills that help your child accomplish what they want. 

For example, if your high school student has trouble in math, teach them to speak up for themselves and ask for help when they need it. Or, if your child struggles with anxiety, find effective ways to manage it such as by facing fears, thinking things through and keeping the anticipatory period short (the time before the event happens). 

Ask about mental health resources on campus.

When touring college campuses, be sure to ask about what mental health resources are available. Make sure your child knows where to find these resources as well. Another important question to ask is how quickly your child can access mental health services. Some colleges have wait times before seeing a counselor. 

Talk about mental health and have a plan. 

When a student goes off to college, their relationship with their parents changes. This is why ongoing communication is crucial. Make sure to keep in touch with your child regularly, and ask about other people on campus who are supporting them such as a coach or a professor. If your child does start showing signs of mental health problems, have a plan of action. 

Mental Health Therapy in New Jersey for College Students

CTRLCare Behavioral Health in Princeton, NJ works closely with our clients to understand their problems and create a personalized treatment plan that includes medication counseling, individual and group therapy, family therapy and educational programs. If your college student is currently struggling with their mental health, get in touch with our admissions team today. Adult and Youth programs are available.