Most mental illnesses begin in the late teens to early 20s. Unfortunately, this often coincides with college. The onset of symptoms can really interfere with coursework. Many colleges have started employing counselors at schools.
Adolescence is difficult. We are navigating school and dating and making friends. Going to college can be stressful on anyone.
Time magazine reported:
"Though mental illness may not be at the forefront of parents’ and students’ minds when they go off to college, young adulthood is a critical period for mental health. Seventy five percent of mental illnesses are onset by age 24 and 43.8 million adults, about one in five, experienced a mental illness in 2012, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. And yet the experiences students and parents have in dealing with mental illness can vary greatly from campus to campus, making it important for people to gain knowledge about what to expect, and what to look out for, imperative."
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has released a guidebook for students and parents that will hopefully help. It is still a taboo among many people, and it really shouldn't be. You can download it here.
For parents and friends, here are a few symptoms to look for:
1. Feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks
2. Severe, out-of-control risk-taking behaviors
3. Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason
4. Not eating, throwing up or using laxatives to lose weight
5. Seeing, hearing or believing things that are not real
6. Repeatedly and excessively using drugs or alcohol
7. Drastic changes in mood, behavior, personality or sleeping habits
8. Extreme difficulty in concentrating or staying still
9. Intense worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities
10. Trying to harm oneself or planning to do so
College is hard, and we need to provide students with the care they need.