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Taking Care of Your Mental Health as College Student

Going back to school is always such an exciting time. Beginning a clean slate to a semester with a plan to get organized and stay organized, getting in the swing of starting new classes, meeting new friends, and adjusting to a new daily routine; these are all different things to look forward to. You probably have put together a checklist of items you need for your semester back, but do you have a checklist for how you will prioritize your mental health?

Creating a plan for managing your mental health may be your most important one for the year. Managing mental health for students can play a key role in how successful you will be in your classes. Most college students experience some form of mental health condition during college. A 2018 study of 14,000 students found that more than one-third of first-year college students worldwide reported “symptoms of a diagnosable mental health. disorder.”

If you haven’t experienced mental health symptoms before it’s important to know what signs to look for in yourself, and a friend or loved one. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has identified 10 common warning signs. If you notice these signs in yourself or loved one don’t be afraid to reach out for help. NAMI has also created a guide for college students and their parents on having a conversation about mental health. Here are some tips to help you manage your mental health at school:

Establish a daily routine. Between balancing classes, studying, having a social life, joining clubs or working part-time during school life can get overwhelming quick. Prioritizing a schedule to help balance everything can be helpful in feeling less stressed, because you will have time blocked out for certain things.

Download an app to help with productivity.  It can be easy to get distracted from the things you need to get done. With modern technology there are apps to help you remain productive. Offtime blocks calls and texts, games, apps, social networks, and browsers while your studying to increase your productivity.

Eat healthy and drink plenty of water! In order to be successful with this it’s essential to plan out your meals, and stock up on healthy snacks to keep in your bag. This doesn’t mean you can’t have late night pizza occasionally, but it is important to not make that a habit. Here are some tips to help you budget groceries and find balance.

Build a support system. Being able to reach out to others can make a huge difference. Your support network could include friends, advisors, or your family.

Learn about college mental health services. Many colleges have on site counseling centers. Find out what’s available and reach out in advance to learn about what services are offered. Some college campuses will be limited, so it’s important to also see what is available off-campus.

These are just a few tips and ideas that can apply to anyone. Create a plan for yourself to make sure you are staying on top of your mental health. Treat yourself with compassion – listen to your instincts about what’s working and not working. Good luck this semester!

Jill Haupts, Outreach Coordinator for The Kim Foundation

Jill Haupts is the Outreach Coordinator at The Kim Foundation. She received her bachelor’s degree in Child, Adult, and Family Services from Iowa State University in 2016. Jill joined the Kim Foundation in January coming from Des Moines, Iowa. Her previous experience includes volunteer recruitment and fundraising, as well as experience coordinating services and providing resources to adults who have a mental health diagnosis. Jill’s role in the foundation is coordinating event logistics, presenting and attending community fairs, as well as volunteer coordination and recruitment. She enjoys working in the nonprofit field and has a passion for advocacy and helping others.