Navigating College and Mental Health

Navigating College and Mental Health

Starting college is a tough time for many reasons. Between moving away from home, having to make new friends, and keeping up with classes, college students have a lot on their plate. One of the most significant challenges students face today is balancing the increasingly pressurized demands of higher education while being mindful of their mental health. If you are having difficulty navigating college life, you are not alone! When your tooth hurts, you go to a doctor who can help fix it. When there’s a leak in your roof, you ask someone to help you fix it. The same is true for your thoughts — if they’re bothering you, it makes sense to ask for help!

Here at Zinkerz, we want to remind you always to do what is best for you and take advantage of all the mental health resources available at school. College is all about community and unification; the staff at your school want to help you succeed, and your peers are all going through the same things you are, so use that to your benefit! Here are some examples of the support organizations that colleges have on campus:

  • Peer Support Groups → One of the most significant support resources for you at school is (drum roll, please)…other students! The best thing about college is being surrounded by people experiencing the same things you are. Many student organizations offer spaces for you to share your struggles and receive advice from your fellow students. You can feel open to being vulnerable in these kinds of groups because the other students already know what you’re going to say since they have the same issues and, most likely, very similar ideas.
  • Health/Wellness Center → Every school has some health or wellness center that offers various physical and mental health programs, so you can go there with any questions or concerns you might have.
  • Residential Services → Within your dorm, there are always people to help you with anything you might need. This usually comes as a student Residential Advisor (RA) who has received training in counseling and advising, so they are a great person to go to for help, advice, or to be pointed in the right direction.
  • Identity-Based Groups → Moving away from your home community can be incredibly isolating. Homesickness is real. Even though it’s super awesome to be a part of such an exciting and diverse community, it’s hard to find people who share common backgrounds and interests with you. Identity-based clubs can be a perfect way to find the communities you’re looking for at school. There are identity clubs based on sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, religion, language, and major (and many more!), so joining one of these groups can help you connect with some great people.
  • Tutoring → Feeling like you’re falling behind in class or not getting the material can make you a little panicky, but help is easily accessible through your college’s tutoring services. Students sometimes feel like there is something wrong with asking for help, but that couldn’t be further from the truth, and you don’t have to go through it alone! Tutors are usually fellow students who have gone through the class before, so they know where you are coming from and can be a great resource to help you get caught up.
  • Counseling Services → Colleges typically have free counseling and psychiatric services that are available and accessible to students. If you feel you would benefit from some professional help, this is where you can find that.

You can find the support organizations at your school by searching for what you’re looking for on their website. Or you can ask someone about the services available to you, like a staff or faculty member or your RA. They also typically cover this information in orientation and send it out in emails, which are great resources!

Besides the resources that colleges offer, there are many ways that students can support themselves while on their college journeys. Mental health is all about making time for yourself. Your mental health should be just as much of a priority as your studies, and self-care and healthy habits are an essential part of that. Here are some of the ways that you can maintain and improve your mental health while at school:

  • Keeping Up with Physical Health: Physical health is a super important part of your mental health. Taking the time to eat a good meal, shower, walk, carve out a half hour to go to the gym, and get enough sleep each night are all things that will benefit your mental health as well.
  • Taking Breaks and Doing Stress Relieving Activities: Everyone needs to take breaks to avoid driving themselves into the ground, so it’s essential to take some time to decompress and relax when you can. You could take a short walk, stretch, grab a snack, or FaceTime a friend for a quick refresh before diving back into whatever your next task is. These breaks can also be stress-relieving activities like doing meditation or breathing exercises, trying something creative, having a dance party, or tidying up—whatever helps you relax.
  • Staying Organized: Figuring out a system of how you are going to track and manage your meetings, assignments, and other life tasks while in school is essential. There are tons of different tools for this, from calendars and apps to planners and reminders and more, so you need to explore and discover which one works best for you. Having some sort of system will be super helpful for managing your stress levels while in school.
  • Making Time for the Things You Love: Being in college doesn’t mean giving up everything to pursue your studies. Make sure you still take the time to hang out with friends, call loved ones, and do fun activities. There are always fun events happening on campus, so pick some to go to. Studying is great, but you don’t want to spend four years trapped in your bedroom. There are also tons of student groups at every college, so keep taking part in the hobbies, sports, and activities you love! Just make sure not to spread yourself too thin. Many students have diverse interests, which is fantastic, but ensure you don’t take on too much at once or more than you have time for.

You’ve got this!

Remember, even after you’ve finally made it through the college preparation and decision process and started at your chosen university, the Zinkerz team will always be here to support you in your endeavors. 

We always love to hear how you’re doing on your college (and life) journeys!

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