Your senior year of high school is coming to an end. After four years of hard work, classes, exams, and spending time with your friends and family, everything is about to change. Some of you may be counting the days until you get a fresh start, and others may be starting to feel a bit nervous about this period of transition. Regardless of how you’re feeling right now, expect that your feelings won’t stay static. Change can bring on feelings of stress, anxiety, and even depression, so it’s important to know how to recognize the warning signs for yourself and your friends, and to reach out for support when you need it.
If you’re finding that your new found freedom and increased workload are leaving you overwhelmed, keep these critical tips in mind:
Don’t Believe Everything You See on Social Media: We all know the saying, “Stop comparing your ‘behind-the-scenes’ with everyone else’s highlight reel,” but we continue to forget this important notion each day. If you see your friends from home posting about how they are loving college life and are making tons of friends, take it with a grain of salt. More people are sharing your sentiments than you think. In fact, according to the 2016 National College Health Assessment, nearly 60% of college students reported feeling very lonely in the past year. Instead of taking to social media for validation or support, reach out to a friend or loved one. A phone call or a visit home can help decrease feelings of isolation and increase feelings of connection.
Get Involved: Colleges offer numerous activities, teams, and clubs to participate in. Depending on your activity of choice, getting out and meeting people who share common interests can empower you to become more comfortable in your surroundings and can help you to feel like part of the larger community.
Take Advantage of Campus Resources: If you find that anxiety, stress, or depression is interfering with your ability to keep up with school work, socialize, or take care of yourself, look to your college for support. Most colleges have a counseling center that offers a certain number of free therapy sessions. It’s never too early to seek help. Even if you’re just a few weeks in, talking with someone confidentially who can help you gain perspective and develop healthy coping mechanisms can go a long way towards feeling more ready to tackle this transition.
The transition to college can bring its own unique challenges. If you’re not ready to reach out for help just yet, you may benefit from an anonymous online screening. A number of schools provide this resource to their students on their counseling website. If your college doesn’t offer this resource, however, you can take a confidential screening for free at www.HelpYourselfHelpOthers.org. Remember, mental health conditions are treatable. Reaching out for help is often the hardest part.