Skip to main content

College health: Your mental well-being

College brings new experiences that can affect your mental health.

College will, no doubt, exercise your mind. But it may also pose challenges for your mental health.

Starting school brings new and sometimes stressful experiences. You may be away from home for the first time. You may have less time to take care of yourself. It may take a while to make new friends.

Here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics on things that may affect your mental health.

Friends and roommates

Friends become your main support system while in college. It may take some time to make friends, but it will happen. You will most likely meet some people you like in your dorm, in classes or through other friends.

Your roommate may be a great friend or a tremendous source of stress. Even if you like each other, conflicts may arise over things such as cleaning and bedtimes. It's best to discuss any conflicts early, before they grow serious. If you still can't seem to get along, talk to your resident adviser.

Homesickness

Homesickness is a common problem for college students. If you're homesick, it doesn't mean you're less mature than those who aren't or that you're not ready to be on your own.

You can deal with homesickness by talking with other students about your feelings. They may share some of the same feelings. You can also keep in touch with family and friends at home, but you should make sure you develop new relationships at school. If your homesickness lingers for a few months or more, speaking with a counselor may help.

Also, remember that going home for the first visit may be difficult. You or members of your family may have changed, and old conflicts don't just disappear. Again, if things become too difficult for you to handle alone, speaking with a counselor may be helpful.

Depression

There may be days when the pressures of college life get you down. Feeling blue occasionally is normal and will pass. If you're feeling down, do something that makes you feel good.

If you're depressed for more than two weeks, however, it may be more serious. See a counselor as soon as possible. Depression is treatable if you get help.

Alcohol

Alcohol abuse is a big problem for many college students. Heavy drinking can cause physical illness and death, long-term drinking problems, aggression and violence. It can also cloud your judgment, causing you to make poor decisions about sex or other matters.

The best way to prevent drinking-related problems is to avoid alcohol.

If you suspect drinking may be a problem for you, talk to a doctor or counselor.

reviewed 9/20/2019

Related stories