Sending our most precious assets, our children, off to college feels like the next right thing to do as parents for many Americans. We believe we are giving our children a chance at creating a good life for themselves, broadening their horizons, and helping them earn a socially acceptable place in a society that believes higher education is valuable. But the change of going from living under the safety and security of a parent’s roof to living independently can be jarring for many young adults.
All of a sudden, the pressures of adulthood are real. Many students, especially in an age of helicopter parenting, have little experience planning their schedules on their own, figuring out meals, and making good decisions about sleep, work, and play.
According to the American Psychological Association:
Ninety-five percent of college counseling center directors surveyed said the number of students with significant psychological problems is a growing concern in their center or on campus…Seventy percent of directors believe that the number of students with severe psychological problems on their campus has increased in the past year. - https://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/06/college-students
In addition, students can feel isolated, overwhelmed, and alone. It’s hard to imaging feeling alone among a sea of young people, but feelings of isolation are commonly reported. Dr. Deborah Cohen writes, “As a college professor for 21 years, I have observed that students coming of age amid this recent crisis of connection appear to have even more difficulty when they first set foot on campus. We know that students are coming to campus more anxious, depressed, and stressed out than ever before.” It can be hard to know where or how to plug in, even with a large array of choices for student organizations and activities.
So what can we do as parents to help our young-adult-children develop positive mental health strategies?
Keep a line of communication open - text, call, Snap Chat them regularly even if they don’t return the call. Let your adult-children know they are not completely on their own, and ask them to come home from time to time.
Talk to them about sleep, nutrition, and exercise, or find someone they will listen to who can. These basic needs often fall off as soon as children move out on their own, and they impact mental health significantly.
Ask your college students to join one organization. One parent reported paying her son, like a part-time job, to sign up for a civic club, where he eventually met his group of friends.
Talk openly about mental health and seeking help BEFORE they go away to school. Take away the stigma of seeking out help for mental health. If your stomach hurt, you wouldn’t think a thing about going to the doctor. There shouldn’t be any shame in seeking help for anxious or depressed thoughts.
If your child seems frozen, get help for them. Anxiety and depression often worsen over time without intervention. Make an appointment with a counselor and offer to go, buy them a book, or find a friend who they will receive information from.
Address your own mental health issues. Research shows that we pass patterns of dealing with emotions down to our children. The good news? We don’t have to. When we learn healthy strategies for ourselves, we pass those on as well!
Need more help? We’ve designed an online accountability program with a daily check-in during November and February - notably the two highest months when people report anxious and depressed feelings. Click the image below for more information.
Anxiety and depression are not illnesses. They are symptoms. They are the body’s alarm system alerting you to act. When we address these symptoms with medication only, we are putting on a band-aid and ignoring root causes. They may become manageable, but the symptoms will not go away until we address what is causing them.
If you are ready to deal with root causes of anxiety and depression so that you can give your mind and body what they need to heal, this is the program for you. For thirty days we will guide you through a thorough investigation of root causes, and lead you through steps to heal.
Healing takes work. Please commit to this program only if you are ready to dedicate the time, energy, and resources to become well.
The course includes:
A one-on-one intake
All reading and video material
A daily check in, assignment, and tool
Lifetime access to the program
A full refund if you find that the program is not right for you
Begins November 1, 2019
* Consider sponsoring someone who needs this program. Message us at firstname.lastname@example.org