College is a transformative time filled with new experiences, personal growth and academic challenges. However, there’s no denying that it can be stressful. NNU’s Director of Counseling Services Julie Barrass and her team of counselors have witnessed firsthand the range of concerns students grapple with. From adjusting to college life and managing relationships to battling depression, anxiety and feelings of isolation, college can pose unique challenges to students’ mental well-being.
While you may not experience all of these challenges in college, it’s crucial to prioritize your mental health and seek support when needed. At NNU, our goal is to empower you with the necessary tools and support to navigate these issues successfully.
Here are the most common mental health issues NNU’s Counseling Services team encounters among college students and some tips for combating these challenges.
1. What are the most common mental health issues for college students?
At NNU Counseling Services, we see students for a variety of issues. These include struggles with adjusting to college—especially living with new people—and with all the changes that happen during the school year developmentally, relationally, emotionally and spiritually. Students often seek support for symptoms of depression, anxiety, disordered eating, trauma, homesickness, overwhelm and exhaustion and we assist students with feelings of discrimination and isolation. So don’t be surprised if any of these come up for you!
2. Do those issues vary by time of year?
During a typical semester, you may experience difficulty adjusting at the beginning of the school year with all the changes of managing the new challenges of being in university. Homesickness may set in once the excitement of moving to college wears off. October tends to be a rough month on campus for many students as it begins to get colder and darker; be aware that you could also experience mood changes with the season.
Stress may escalate near the end of the semester with finals and as you adjust to thinking about going back home (or not) for the holidays. When you return in January, you may have a hard time with the weather and lack of sunshine for the first couple of months back. However, once Spring Break hits, your mood will likely have improved and you will begin to look forward to trips with friends, making housing plans for the fall or applying for student leadership positions on campus.
After Spring Break, you may feel the pressure again as you notice that there are only a few weeks left of school and it’s crunch time to finish well. Many seniors struggle when they realize their college days are coming to an end and they’ll need to make adult decisions like finding a job and changing their living situations.
3. What are some of the best ways to combat mental health issues?
The best advice we give about handling all the struggles you will face in college is to focus on controlling the controllables. Practice self-care, find balance in all you need to do and make sure to have a strong support system—whether that be friends, family, coaches, faculty and/or staff. As a counseling staff, we have worked hard to train NNU’s faculty and staff to be aware of the mental health issues we see and to provide them with tools to support them in identifying typical struggles and knowing when a student may be in crisis. We make sure there is someone available to support you in any difficult situation. Someone will always be nearby— whether that’s in your dorm, in the classroom or in the student commons—to be an advocate and confidante.
4. What advice can you offer to students regarding mental health?
Your generation is great in seeking support and advocating for others. You’ve grown up hearing about and even experiencing counseling so that it is a normal and acceptable resource. I believe your generation chooses what is important and fights hard for what you believe in. You don’t sacrifice yourself for things that aren’t important to you. You see yourself as valuable humans and are aware of the capacity you each have. My advice is to keep advocating for yourself and others. Self-care is not selfish. Saying no is not mean. These are important steps in establishing healthy boundaries and knowing where the line is. Taking care of ourselves—including our body, soul, mind and spirit—is essential for overall health and wellness.