A Message to Parents and Families of College Students
(JED Foundation, August 30, 2017)
Attending college is an important achievement and exciting time in life. Your student will gain greater independence, meet new people and have memorable experiences. It is a time of significant change, which can be both positive and challenging. The stress of college may have an impact on their mental health, making it difficult to navigate the daily demands of school. In fact, data from the spring 2016 National College Health Assessment showed at some point during the year:
- As many as one in five students experience a mental health condition while in college
- Over 80% of students feel completely overwhelmed by all they have to do
- 60% feel very lonely
- Another 60% experience overwhelming anxiety
- Over a 1/3 of students reported feeling so depressed they could not function
The reality is that even during these years of personal and intellectual growth, students can benefit from additional support from you, their peers, and their college or university. Research shows that your child’s ability to stay in school and perform at their best is closely tied to their emotional well-being. As a supportive family member, there is a lot you can do to help your child succeed:
- Talk to your student about mental health, the importance of self-care, and where to go on campus for emotional or academic support.
- Connect with other parents via parent portals, parent councils, Facebook groups and online forums to discuss ways to get involved.
- Advocate for resources and programming on your student’s campus that address mental health.
If you are a parent or family member who suspects a student is struggling:
REACH OUT. Let him or her know you are concerned.
CONTACT COLLEGE STAFF. If your student is unresponsive or you think the issue could be serious, contact a campus mental health professional, the dean of students, or university police department.
SHARE INFORMATION. A campus mental health professional may not be able to provide health care information, but they can listen to your concerns or health information about your student.
KEEP TALKING. Help start–and continue–a dialogue about mental health.