May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time that brings light to an issue that’s discussed far too little. While the stigma around mental illness is improving, there’s still considerable work that needs to be done, especially surrounding the accessibility of care and resources for people with mental illness. For college students, this issue is especially relevant as one in four adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental illness. In spite of these difficulties, there are some excellent resources available for college students suffering from mental illness. Here are just a few.
1. General National Organizations
There are a ton of national organizations that offer support for various mental illnesses, from writing informative articles to sponsoring support groups across the country. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, the National Eating Disorder Association, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and the National Alliance on Mental Illness are some great examples of these organizations.
Phone hotlines are a great way of getting help quickly. They are staffed 24 hours a day, and either provide counseling over the phone or can connect you to resources in your area. Here is a list of 24-hour hotlines that can be called if you need help right away.
3. Multicultural Organizations
There are numerous resources available for college students with mental illness who are part of ethnic and racial minority groups, and therefore experience additional layers of prejudice and stigma. The HBCU Center for Excellence in Substance Abuse & Mental Health, the National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association and the Jewish Association for the Mentally Ill are good places to start.
4. LGBT+ Resources
LGBT+ students with mental illness experience additional challenges as a result of their multiple identities, and there are therefore resources available specifically for them. The Trevor Project, The Association of LGBTQ Psychiatrists and the Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling are good examples of these resources.
Technology has provided additional ways for people with mental illness to manage their symptoms on a daily basis and incorporate mental healthcare into their daily lives. SAM is an app that helps people with anxiety monitor their symptoms and carry out self-help exercises, Recovery Road is intended to help people with eating disorders on the path to recovery, Panic Relief provides immediate help for individuals suffering from panic attacks and Mood Panda helps people with depression and other mood disorders track their mood, monitor their symptoms and get support from other members of the community.
6. Student Health Centers
Every college campus has a health services center, which is required to have mental health services staffed by trained counselors and therapists. Research your center ahead of time to find out information about the services offered there and its confidentiality policy. Your health center should also be able to provide you with information about counselors and other resources off-campus, in your area.
7. Your school’s office for disability services.
Some students with mental illness will require disability accommodations for their schoolwork, whether that be extensions on deadlines or additional time for exams. Make sure to contact your school’s office of disability services to see what they offer and what plans can be made for your academic success. According to the Americans With Disabilities Act, people cannot be discriminated against based on physical and mental disabilities.
8. Educate yourself.
If you believe that you or a friend have a mental illness, educating yourself on the illness and its symptoms is the best place to start. Here are symptoms of depression, here are ones for anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and eating disorders.
Navigating college with a mental illness is difficult, but there are resources in place to help you get through it. Remember that it’s never selfish to put your mental health above your schoolwork and that recovery takes time.
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