As much as I wish this holiday weekend was celebrating the beginning
of summer, reality is sinking in. The dog days of summer are behind us,
U-haul trucks are flooding the streets, and students are back, which means September is here. Time to reset, adjust to new schedules, living situations,
and realign with the pace that has been ingrained in our psyche as the
academic school year begins.
Easier said than done for many.
As a mental health provider, I work with students and families who are
struggling with high stress levels before arriving to campus, early in the
semester, or later as they've been dragging themselves through. Low levels
of stress are usually manageable, but when it persists it increasingly impedes
on emotions, thought processes, physical health, relationships, and affects
In The Stressed Years of Their Lives, Hibbs & Rostain state that 3/4 of students
try and deal with serious stressors on their own, which many can but those
who can't wait too long to address. I see it often, an early response frequently influences positive outcomes, and those who wait too long to address generally have a much harder time managing the semester or may end up leaving school.
There are lots of signs when deciding to seek help and noticing them are key -
here are some:
+ Continual overthinking & worry about worse case scenarios
+ Indecisiveness and inability to sit with uncertainty
+ Noticeable change in mood, energy, focus
+ Frequently self-conscious, trying hard to fit in
+ Withdrawing and isolating
+ Uncontrollable or suppressed anger
+ Unable to relax, wind-down, sleep enough (or too much)
+ Increasingly falling behind, unable to meet daily demands
+ Intrusive thoughts, voices, understanding what’s real and not
+ Suicidal, homicidal thoughts, and concern w/ safety
+ Loss of hope, pleasure, self-care
+ Increase or harmful use of drugs, alcohol, food, sex, gambling
+ Keeping struggle to self and unable to express or ask for help
Whatever the experience the longer the wait/response, to the stressors,
may have a serious impact. Here are a few options in searching for support:
+ Schools may offer a few counseling sessions and/or help with referrals to therapists in the community.
+ Insurance companies can provide a list of “in-network” therapists in the city/location.
+ PsychologyToday.com is a site that helps people find therapists, based on location, specialty, insurance…..
+ OpenPathCollective.org is a site that provides referrals for affordable
counseling for those who cannot pay full out-of-pocket rates and who may
not have adequate healthcare coverage.