Feelings of stress, anxiety, and a sense of being overwhelmed can hit college students – even upperclassmen -- early in the semester.
NYIT Counseling and Wellness Senior Director Alice Heron-Burke is available to discuss five ways students can support their own mental and emotional health. Here are her tips:
• Know the school’s available resources. “And don’t be afraid to use them,” Heron-Burke advises. “If you’re sick, go to the medical facility. If you have difficulty with classes, use the writing, math, and other learning centers. If you’re experiencing stress, homesickness, or sadness, use counseling resources.”
Some students know where the resources are located on campus, but they’re hesitant. Heron-Burke says students should know that the services are in place to help.
“It’s better to go earlier than later,” she says.
Some schools have even instituted novel ways to help students. Earlier this year, NYIT gave students access to a special app called Just In Case. The app provides guidance and support to students who feel they cannot cope. If, for example, they are persistently angry or stressed or have thoughts of hurting others or committing suicide, the app provides emergency numbers for suicide prevention hotlines and campus security or, in non-emergency cases, direct numbers for the school’s counseling services.
“This provides them with information when they’re on and off campus,” says Heron-Burke. “We know that students have a tendency to be linked to their phone. We’re trying to find innovative ways to reach out to students and offer them resources that will help make their college experience successful and enjoyable.”
The phone numbers are not tracked and the service is completely confidential, Heron-Burke adds.
Burke’s remaining tips:
• Be mindful of your emotional health. “Be aware if you’re feeling stressed, sad or isolated,” says Heron-Burke. “Don’t accept that as the way it’s going to be. Figure out if you’re feeling different or uncomfortable. Everyone has a bad day, but you don’ have to suffer.”
• Get enough sleep. “Many students try to burn the candles at both ends,” says Heron-Burke. “They become run down, physically ill and it’s not good for their ability to concentrate and focus.”
• Eat well and exercise – avoid a steady diet of fatty junk foods.
• Set realistic goals for the semester and know your strengths and weaknesses. “If you’re not a morning person, don’t sign up for 8 am classes. If you don’t have good time management skills, be realistic about how many distractions you can handle."
And, adds Heron-Burke, understand that challenging yourself doesn’t mean totally reinventing yourself.
“If you make changes, make them one at a time," she says. "Start with one thing and then after you have success, add other things.”
Finally, says Heron-Burke, be safe. Always be aware of your physical surroundings. Keep your dorm room locked and walk at night with friends or a security escort. Get familiar with the recently passed Campus SAVE Act, which makes students aware of their rights regarding sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence.