4 Things to Do if College Counseling Is UnavailableBy Ernest Hamilton, UniversityHerald Reporter
Mental health among college students is a serious and complex problem. According to an Inside Higher Ed study, 65% of students reported having fair or poor mental health. Just in the last decade, the number of anxiety and depression cases almost doubled. The American College Health Association claims that the number of previous depression diagnoses or treatments grew from 9% to 20% in 2009-2019.
It has to do with many factors of a campus experience. Students have to adjust to a completely new schedule, accommodation, and academic curriculum. Sometimes, students have to write a research paper, take a shift, or visit a friend all in one day. So, it is incredibly hard to manage huge levels of stress.
Although colleges recognize the problem and try to provide resources, they are not always available. In this article, we'll list down all other resources open to students in case college counseling is not available.
Other Campus Resources
Often, colleges offer free or low-cost counseling. It usually has a limited amount of sessions; yet, it is a great opportunity. But it is not the only thing to keep in mind. A college might have a training center for future counselors. They can offer free or low-cost therapy sessions to other students as they need experience for their education.
Also, there might be therapy groups available. They can be either provided by college staff or self-organized by students dealing with similar issues. Sometimes, talking to someone with the same experience is very helpful.
It is important to check out your rights and accommodations. Depending on the diagnosis and personal needs, a person might get such services:
study breaks, additional breaks;
separate room for passing an exam;
opportunity to give written presentations or exams instead of oral;
opportunity to record lectures;
extensions of deadlines;
studying from home.
If you feel like these options can reduce anxiety or help with ADHD, it is worth looking at which of them are available in your college.
Off-Campus Therapy Options
The next option is to look for help off-campus. Of course, there are many therapists out there, but the two main issues are money and availability for students.
Therapy is not very affordable, so it is important to look for any options that allow saving some money while taking care of mental health.
There can be a local psychology training clinic with grad students offering sessions. They are still supervised by a licensed therapist, so it is not as risky as one might think.
In addition, one might research low-cost and sliding scale payment therapy options.
YMCA also offers low-cost mental health help for individuals. The prices vary depending on the income of a person, so it is worth checking out if you have a YMCA nearby.
Open Path is a non-profit organization that helps people find affordable and licensed therapists. One can find professionals that charge $30-50 per session. Yet, one needs to pay one time for membership on Open Path ($49).
There are many associations, organizations, and institutions that can offer a lot of resources to students struggling with mental health. Here are some that can be useful in different times of need.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) is available 24/7 for emergencies. One can get immediate support and referral to a local group or therapist.
Crisis Text Line is also available 24/7 and is devoted to less urgent issues (text "HOME" to 741741). A professional will help deal with stress or overbearing emotions. Crisis counselors can make you calm down and feel safe. They can refer one to other specialists as well.
The American Psychiatric Association has a lot of helpful resources on its website. There is also an opportunity to find a local support group or psychiatrists there.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has a great site with lots of advice and tips on reducing anxiety and depression symptoms. And one can find a counselor via this platform as well. Besides, it has an online support group that one can join.
The National Institute of Mental Health has a lot of articles on mental health issues students struggle with. One can find symptoms, possible treatments, and advice on how to help yourself or others.
Other Online Resources
There are many other ways to get help online - forums, chat groups for support, online counseling, or downloading an app. Some apps can be used to calm down, meditate, reduce anxiety and stress, track mood, etc. Here is what one might look for.
Research for online support groups for specific issues like depression, ED, ADHD, anxiety, etc.
7 Cups is a free website with trained volunteers to talk to. They cannot provide therapist advice, but they can listen and help get through. There is also a paid option to upgrade to a licensed therapist for $150 per month.
Consider online counseling platforms like Talkspace.com (it has free groups led by therapists and paid sessions) or Real (free group sessions and one-to-one options).
Bliss is a resource by CIMHS where one can follow eight free sessions on well-being and mental health on their own. One can learn to track mood, manage emotional and high-stress situations, as well as discover helpful techniques to calm down.
Calm is a simple yet effective app for relaxation via guided meditations.
Headspace is another amazing app with lots of resources on managing well-being and living mindfully. It has tips, tricks, and meditations to calm down, focus, or relax.
Mental health is an essential concern of every person wishing to live a fulfilling life. Students need to take care of their mental state because they deal with huge loads of stress on a daily basis. However, if college counseling is not available to you, it is not the end of the world. There are many other options and professionals to reach out to.