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How to find and use mental health resources in college

Quizlet HQ & Quizlet in Education ·
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Quizlet is proud to partner with real students and recent graduates to showcase authentic voices on our blog. This guest post is by Nicolette Kier, who just graduated from the University of Pittsburgh.

At some point in our lives, most of us will experience a psychological hardship that we need support to cope with. Many will experience these hardships at some point during their academic career.

When you're in high school, someone like a parent or teacher can help connect you to mental health services when you need them. But when you're in college, in a state of independence, you'll likely find that you will need to seek out mental health resources on your own.

There are many instances when a college student may need mental health resources. You may be managing a mental health condition. You may be experiencing distress over something like the possibility of failing a class, or are coping with the loss of a loved one. You could be in an acute state of crisis and need immediate support.

Whatever you’re going through, know that it is normal to need support. It may feel like you're the only one having a hard time in school, but you're not. And while you might feel like asking for help is weak, it’s really a sign of strength.

So let's talk about what's available on your campus, and how to use these resources to improve and maintain your mental health. But first:

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis or need immediate support:

  • Call your school’s counseling services center. The phone number can be found on your school’s student affairs website.
  • Call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room if you are in danger of hurting yourself or others.
  • Call school police, who can escort you to counseling centers or the emergency room. Calling them won’t get you into trouble, or anything negative. They are simply there to get you the help you need.
  • Contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255, or use its Lifeline Chat if you cannot call.

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On-campus mental health services

Every school has a health center, and they’re often split into physical health services and counseling services. Both are equally important in maintaining your overall health and wellness.

Information about the location of your school’s counseling center, as well as the services it offers, can be found on your school’s student affairs website. These services typically include:

  • consultations on academic issues or personal stressors
  • clinician referrals
  • helping you through strong emotions when in serious distress
  • short-term individual therapy
  • group therapy (usually lasting six to eight weeks, or throughout the semester)
  • psychiatric care (on a case-by-case basis)
  • skills workshops to cope with intense emotions, anxiety, stress, etc.

How to get started with on-campus services

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Your counseling center will likely have walk-in counseling services during the day. Walk-ins are asked to fill out forms, and are then seen by a therapist employed by the university. This is a great option if you just want to talk; need to work through difficult situations or decisions with a nonjudgmental, trained professional; or are currently experiencing distressing emotions.

If you have been experiencing anxiety, restlessness or extreme sadness, or are having any other problems you would like long-term help with, start by scheduling an intake appointment.

You will find instructions on how to do this on your school’s student affairs website. It usually involves calling the counseling center and setting up an appointment. You may also be sent forms to fill out prior to your appointment. These usually include questions about the reason for the appointment, symptoms and prior conditions.

During your appointment, a trained professional counselor will connect you with the appropriate services, whether that’s group therapy on campus, services in the community, or psychiatric services. They will also share information about coping skills and self-care.

On-campus therapists and psychiatrists may work with you in the short term if you are coping with a distressing situation or time in your life. But they typically like to connect students who need long-term care with someone in the community. Counseling centers do this so that their clinicians can remain available to meet with other students and help them find resources as well.

Finding a therapist and/or psychiatrist through the campus counseling center

If the clinician evaluating your needs believes that you need long-term care, they often have a list of providers in the community who will take your insurance. These are practitioners who are well-trained and trusted by your school.

Calling to make initial appointments, especially if you are very anxious or have no energy, can be difficult. If you need it, the clinician seeing you can be there to help you make those calls.

Stress-relieving resources outside of student health services

Digital resources for mental health.jpgMost mental health services are virtual right now. (Image from Pixabay)

Your school will have, in varying degrees, self-care events, services and organizations for improving and maintaining your mental health. (Almost all of these will be online due to COVID-19.)

You can usually find upcoming self-care and mental health-related events and services on the counseling services page of your school’s student affairs website. They may also be promoted on your school’s social media.

You can find campus organizations that promote and advocate for mental health on the student organization page of your school’s student affairs website. One such organization is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which has chapters at colleges in all 50 states.

There are also online resources. ULifeline and Active Minds are designed specifically for college students. Online support groups are a great option for socially distant support as well. Click here for an extensive list of support groups from Mental Health America.

Accommodations for students with mental health disabilities: A psychiatric disorder does not mean you can’t succeed.

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A mental health disorder does not mean you have to kiss your academic aspirations goodbye. You are just going to have to go about learning differently, and your school understands this.

If you have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder such as anxiety, depression or ADHD, you may need accommodations to be able to succeed in your courses.

Accommodations include, but are not limited to:

  • testing at an alternate location to minimize distractions
  • extra time to test, which helps minimize anxiety
  • an extended number of absences (within reason)
  • access to peer notes or audio recordings of notes
  • more time to complete assignments (within reason)
  • assistance with assignments and scheduling during hospitalization

Students seek accommodations for many reasons, including: difficulty focusing, adjusting to new medications, and managing symptoms of a disorder.

To start the process of requesting an accommodation, contact your school’s disability services department. You can find their information on your school’s student affairs website. You will schedule an intake meeting with someone from disability services, and will likely fill out an intake form prior to meeting.

Your school will ask for documentation of your disability, including diagnoses from clinicians and a list of prescribed medications. Be prepared to present these documents when applying.

If you are struggling in college, you are far from alone.

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Students often do not ask for needed help if they are feeling isolated or embarrassed, or because they think they’re the only one struggling. So, to reiterate: It is normal to need support at some point in your college career. It’s not uncommon to need long-term support, either.

Your future self will thank you for getting help now. Your future grades will, too.

Nicolette Kier just made it to the other side of a degree in physics and writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She reaped the usual rewards of college: knowledge, a job, and debt. She thinks it was worth it.



    Mental health is so important, please take care of yourself!

  2. Kawaii5014

    💗 💗 💗 💗 💗 💗

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