As College Graduates Celebrate, ValueOptions Offers Tips for Students to Take Control of Their Mental Health

PR Newswire

NORFOLK, Va., May 21, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- For graduating college students, May is a time of celebration—but for the 64 percent of students who will drop out of school due to a mental health disorder, graduation may never come. ValueOptions®, Inc., a health improvement company specializing in mental and emotional wellbeing and recovery, is reaching out to college students with tips to take control of their emotional wellbeing.  

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"While college is an exciting time, it can also be an extremely difficult time," said Dr. Hal Levine, Chief Medical Officer, ValueOptions. "Along with academic and social pressures, many students will find themselves away from their loved ones for the first time, which can take an enormous toll on one's emotional health. For college students facing a mental illness, this kind of stress can exacerbate already strong feelings of isolation, confusion or anxiety."

Sadly, many students never get help for these feelings—of the 64 percent of students dropping out due to a mental health disorder, according to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) report, 50 percent never accessed college mental health services.

Luckily, many colleges offer resources for helping students get back on track, both emotionally and academically. Take a look at a few ways to take control of your wellbeing while at school:

  • Take advantage of the mental health support services offered through your university, such as onsite counseling, peer support groups or connections to community resources. Not only are many programs conveniently located on campus, but often colleges factor these support services into tuition, meaning students can access them at no additional cost.
  • Along with proactively addressing your mental health needs, give yourself a little extra academic support, too. Colleges are sometimes able to provide accommodations to students who are facing a mental health diagnosis, such as online courses, additional time for tests, tutoring sessions or permission for extended absences. Universities can even communicate these needs to professors and university staff on your behalf so that you can concentrate on excelling academically and mentally.
  • If your grades have already slipped, get in touch with your academic advisor to see what your options are—you may be able to withdraw from some classes without it impacting your GPA. Even if withdrawing isn't an option, you can work out a plan for which classes you'll need to retake and how to (realistically!) schedule credit hours around your needs.
  • Reach out to your family and friends for support. Experiencing a mental disorder can cause us to feel isolated and withdrawn, and you'll need your loved ones more than ever as you take steps to start feeling your best. It's also a good idea to loop supporters in on what your plans are for getting your mental health and academics back on track so they can play a part in helping you reach your goals.
  • Even with support at home, you'll still need to feel cared for while at school, and student groups are a great way to find critical peer support. Whether it's a social club, a music group, a community service club or a spiritual organization, your college likely offers an activity you already enjoy. Simply doing something you love alongside others who share your interest can go a long way in helping you feel connected to and supported by your college community.
  • It's normal to feel overwhelmed by the options, but you don't have to make a plan alone. Talk to a trusted advisor, a resident assistant or your university ombudsperson to find out which resources are available for your specific needs.

Still not sure where to start? Visit ULifeline, an online resource for college mental health services, at www.ulifeline.org, and view a list of mental health resources available for your specific school; or, if you need to talk to someone immediately, call their national hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

About ValueOptions®
ValueOptions is a health improvement company that serves more than 32 million individuals. On behalf of employers, health plans and government agencies, we manage innovative programs and solutions that directly address the challenges our health care system faces today. A national leader in the fields of mental and emotional wellbeing, recovery and resilience, employee assistance, and wellness, ValueOptions helps people make the difficult life changes needed to be healthier and more productive. With offices nationwide and a network of more than 130,000 provider locations, ValueOptions helps people take important steps in the right direction. We help them live their lives to the fullest potential. Visit www.valueoptions.com for more information.

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