Adjusting to college can take a toll on a student’s mental health, and as parents, it’s important to know how to best support your child even when they are away from home. To help give you some ideas, here is what you need to know.
1. Listen To Their Concerns
College is a completely new environment, and your child might have concerns that they need to talk about. For example, in the academic year of 2015-2016, CSU Sonoma State reported that there were 14 Title IX investigations, 11 that resulted in the accused student being held responsible and sanctioned.
Title IX is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in education, and it is unfortunately still something that is needed on many campuses. If your child feels that they are being discriminated against or otherwise targeted because of their sex, race, gender, or religion, you should know about it so that the proper actions can be taken. Sometimes new college students may be too nervous to speak up for themselves, so parents definitely play a huge role when it comes to getting a resolution to these issues.
2. Surprise Them
If your child is living away from home while in college, you can always give them a mood boost by sending them little surprises every now and then. Right now, the bakery business is booming and currently comprises over two percent of the U.S. GDP at just over $300 billion every year. Nothing makes a struggling college kid feel better than receiving a box of fresh cookies or cupcakes that can help keep them going on those long study nights.
3. Help Them Find Help
Many college campuses offer counseling services for students who are struggling with their mental health. However, sometimes these services can be booked, leaving students to find other outlets. If your child is struggling with their mental health, you should consider working together to find another local counseling service that your child can take advantage of. Counseling can be one of the most beneficial things when it comes to working out strategies for better mental health, and it can also give your child a way to process and talk about the problems they are having in a completely safe space.
4. Encourage Healthy Habits
Being away from home for the first time can be a struggle as students will have to balance living on their own and their classes. This can easily become overwhelming and lead to a decline in mental health. Because of this, it’s important for parents to encourage healthy habits, such as making time for healthy meals, proper sleep, and exercise. While this may seem difficult at first, with the right support and encouragement, it is possible and it can help provide more structure to an otherwise chaotic transition.
5. Suggest Finding New Groups to Connect With
The National Alliance on Mental Health states that religion can have a positive impact on mental health. This is because it can provide community, ritual, and helpful teaching on how to approach problems in life. Although 35% of Americans believe that Bible study can help fight against mental illness, it’s important to remember that religion in and of itself isn’t a cure, rather a way of coping. That said, it can be a powerful tool to use, and if your family values religion, it may be worth taking time to pray or read scriptures with your student together over Zoom to help them feel more connected to their faith, even if they are away from home. Some campuses may also have religious groups on campus that your child can join to find a sense of community that can also help them feel less isolated.
Going to college can be a turbulent time, and it’s common for college students to struggle with their mental health. However, you are not powerless as a parent and by keeping these five tips in mind, you can help support your student and give them the help that they need to succeed.