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Mental health issues are on the rise in colleges throughout America.
One in five students have reported having suicidal thoughts, according to a Harvard Medical School study. Among gay, lesbian, and bisexual students, suicide attempts have increased more than 25 percent since 2009. But there’s hope for those struggling.
Thrive Global, a behavior change media and technology company, spoke with B. Janet Hibbs, Ph.D., a family psychologist and co-author of The Stressed Years of Their Lives: Helping Your Kid Survive and Thrive During Their College Years, about dealing with “the sky is falling” anxiety.
Here are some steps college students can take to control their symptoms before their anxiety and depression becomes a bigger problem and requires intervention.
Develop healthy habits.
Regular exercise, eating nutritious foods, and getting good amounts of sleep (about 8 to ten hours a night) will help reduce the symptoms of anxiety, Hibbs says. However, because it is sometimes difficult to stay on the healthy track due to long class hours, tests, and a busy social life, Hibbs reminds students that “you will make mistakes and that you can recover and learn from them.”
Find support groups.
It’s important to not suffer in silence and find others who may be dealing with similar problems. Active Minds is a non-profit organization that helps students find groups within their campus that can provide peer-to-peer support. They have 450 chapters throughout the U.S. If Active Minds doesn’t have a group in your school, Hibbs recommends students seek similar support systems on campus.
Look for support online.
If you’re not ready to open up to your peers in person, there are resources online that can connect you to a mental health professional. Talkspace, an online therapy company, has a network of more than 2,000 licensed therapists that talk to patients via text, audio or video messaging. Other “tech-centric” resources include Better Mind, connects students to tele-counselors, Runaway App, which connects students to trained volunteers, and the Buddy Project, a non-profit that links suicidal teens to supportive peers via Twitter.
They add that all of these tips can help provide support and raise awarenes but they can’t be a substitue for one-on-one therapy. So, be sure to reach out for support if you need it!
Read Thrive’s report into the surprising reasons behind the student mental health crisis here.
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