College is often considered a transformative and liberating time for young adults, marked by new experiences, friendships, and personal growth. However, it is also a critical period when mental health issues can surface. This phase of life brings a unique set of challenges that can significantly impact students’ emotional well-being.

The results of a survey conducted in 2021 by the American College Health Association including nearly 100,000 college participants revealed that 16% of male students and 33% of female students had received diagnoses of anxiety, while 14% of male students and 25% of female students had been diagnosed with depression.

In this article, we will explore why college is such a critical time for mental health. Additionally, we will look at how therapy from counseling practices like Empower Counseling can play a pivotal role in supporting college students. This can include Samford students, Auburn Students, University of Alabama students, and Birmingham-Southern students. We also help students in colleges throughout Alabama.

A building on a college campus

Understanding the Importance of Mental Health during the College Transition

Transitioning to college is a significant life event that can trigger emotional responses and affect mental health. As students leave the familiarity of their homes and embark on a new academic and social environment, they may encounter feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and uncertainty.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

In June, the Healthy Minds Network, an organization focused on college students’ mental health research, published a study that examined over 350,000 students from 373 campuses between 2013 and 2021. The study revealed that the proportion of students meeting the criteria for one or more mental health issues in 2021 had increased twofold compared to 2013.

Between 2013 and 2020-2021, the percentage of students meeting the criteria for one or more mental health problems increased by almost 50%. More than 60% of students were affected during the latter period. Mental health issues worsened across all groups studied.

Ethnic Background and Culture Increase Rick Factors in Some Cases

Notably, American Indian/Alaskan Native students experienced the most significant increases in depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and meeting criteria for mental health problems. Among the groups examined, students of color had the lowest rates of seeking mental health services.

Asian, Black, and Latinx students had the highest rates of past-year treatment, but these rates were still at or below the lowest rate among white students.

For Arab American students, there was a 22% increase in prevalence but an 18% decrease in treatment during the same period.

Myriad Pressures Impact Student Mental Health

The pressure to perform academically and fit into a new social circle can be overwhelming.

During this time college students may face challenges. These include adjusting to a more demanding academic workload, living independently for the first time, and managing their time effectively.

Also, financial stress, relationship difficulties, and homesickness can burden their mental health.

To address these challenges effectively, counseling and therapy can be invaluable resources. Counseling for college students offers a supportive and understanding environment where individuals can express their feelings. Additionally, they can explore their concerns, and develop coping strategies to navigate the college transition smoothly.

Late adolescence and early adulthood are significant developmental stages when many mental health conditions first surface. The stressors and demands of college life can exacerbate pre-existing issues or trigger the onset of new ones.

Conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders may manifest during this period, making it vital for college students to have access to mental health resources.

An anxious college student looking at laptop/ counseling for college students/ empower counseling/ Birmingham Alabama

Counseling for College Students: The Most Prevalent Issues Among College Students are Anxiety, Depression, Academic Stress

Depression and anxiety are two college students’ most prevalent mental health issues. Anxiety disorders can cause excessive worry, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating. Alternatively, depression may lead to persistent sadness, loss of interest, and changes in appetite and sleep patterns.

Academic stress is also a common problem, with students grappling with high expectations and a fear of failure.

Social Pressure

Entering college involves leaving behind familiar social circles and starting anew in an environment filled with strangers. This social transition can lead to isolation, loneliness, and social anxiety. The pressure to fit in, make friends, and build new connections can be overwhelming for some students.

 The age group in which many mental health issues reveal themselves for the first time

For many students, college represents the first taste of independence and autonomy. It is during this period that mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and mood disorders, often begin to manifest. Transitioning from adolescence to adulthood can trigger emotional turbulence and self-exploration, revealing underlying mental health concerns.

Engaging in various activities to maintain your physical well-being, such as brushing your teeth, getting enough sleep, exercising, and scheduling regular check-ups, is a step in the right direction. Similarly, taking care of your mental health involves forming habits. These can include prioritizing restful sleep, staying physically active, and fostering connections within your support circle. These practices can contribute to the upkeep or enhancement of your mental well-being.

1.     Academic pressure

The academic demands of college can be overwhelming. Students face the pressure of maintaining good grades, meeting deadlines, and excelling in their chosen fields. Fear of failure and the constant pursuit of perfection can affect their mental well-being, leading to stress and burnout.

2.     Too many choices on how to spend time

The college provides many opportunities, ranging from extracurricular activities to social events. While this variety can be exciting, it can also be daunting for some students. The pressure to make the “right” choices and the fear of missing out (FOMO) can contribute to anxiety and decision-making challenges.

3.     Managing their schedules for the first time

Leaving the structured environment of high school and moving to college requires students to take responsibility for managing their schedules. The newfound freedom can be liberating but overwhelming for those struggling with time management and organization.

4.     Not going to counseling soon enough or at all

Despite the growing awareness about mental health, many college students still hesitate to seek professional help when they experience emotional difficulties. This reluctance may arise from the stigma surrounding mental health or the belief that they should be able to handle their problems independently.

Unfortunately, delaying or avoiding counseling can exacerbate mental health issues and hinder personal growth.

a counselor in session/ empower counseling/ birmingham alabama

Counseling for College Students: The Role of Counseling and Therapy Services

Therapists who specialize in counseling for college students cater to the unique needs of students during this critical time. Trained professionals provide guidance and support to help students cope with the academic, social, and emotional demands they face.

Counseling and therapy services are pivotal in addressing college students’ mental health challenges. Therapists who specialize in counseling college students from Empower Counseling and Coaching provide a safe and confidential space for students to discuss their feelings, fears, and challenges. These services offer professional support from licensed counselors who understand students’ struggles during college.

Gain Insight and Understanding Through Counseling For College Students

By engaging in counseling sessions, students can gain insight into their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. This can contribute to personal growth and resilience. Furthermore, counseling offers a safe space for students to discuss academic concerns, relationship challenges, and other stressors affecting their mental health.

Counseling for college students can assist in developing coping strategies, enhancing self-awareness, and fostering resilience. By encouraging open communication, counselors can help students navigate social and academic pressures while promoting a positive outlook on mental health.

Parents Are Not Able to Observe Their Students

When college students leave home for the first time, parents lose constant and consistent access to them. This change can hinder the early detection of potential mental health issues. Parents might not be able to observe behavioral changes, emotional distress, or shifts in academic performance as they did when their child lived at home.

Friends, teachers, and school administrators may not know what to look for, leaving students silent. It is essential to foster a culture of openness and awareness surrounding mental health on college campuses, where support networks can identify signs of distress and guide students to seek help.

Navigating the College Transition with Strong Mental Health

In addition to counseling and therapy services, students can take several practical steps to support their mental health during the college transition.

    • Firstly, managing stress and anxiety effectively is crucial.

    • Implementing time management strategies, seeking help when needed, and engaging in stress-reducing activities like exercise or meditation can make a significant difference.

    • Building a solid support network on campus is also essential. Connecting with peers, professors, and campus resources can create a sense of belonging and provide a safety net during challenging times.

    • Embracing personal growth and self-care is vital to maintaining mental well-being.

    • Setting realistic expectations, being kind to yourself, and seeking help when needed are essential steps in fostering resilience and thriving during the college years.

Unhealthy Habits Are Easy to Fall Into

The newfound freedom of college life can sometimes lead to unhealthy habits. Poor sleep schedules, a lack of exercise, and an imbalanced diet can exacerbate existing mental health challenges or contribute to new ones. Also, the use of substances as a coping mechanism can have severe consequences on mental well-being.

Empower Counseling: Empowering Students for Academic and Personal Success

Students can access specialized counseling services through Empower Counseling and coaching, thus promoting academic and personal success.

Therapy for Samford Students: Promoting Mental Well-being and Resilience through Counseling for College Students

Starting therapy for Samford Students with Marti, Savannah, and Kathryn, at Empower Counseling, can be an essential aspect of maintaining vital mental health during the college transition. Therapy offers a more in-depth exploration of personal issues and is often beneficial for students facing severe emotional challenges or mental health conditions.

At Empower Counseling, therapy for Samford students is tailored to meet the specific needs of your student. Therapists work closely with students to identify underlying concerns and develop personalized treatment plans. These plans may incorporate an advanced form of cognitive behavioral therapy called ACT, which includes mindfulness practices, and other evidence-based techniques to foster mental well-being and resilience.

What Parents Should Do to Monitor the Mental Health of Their College Students

Even though direct observation might be challenging, there are several ways parents can support and monitor their college students’ mental health from a distance:

 Regular Communication

Maintain open lines of communication with your child. Reach out through phone calls, texts, or video chats to inquire about their well-being and listen actively when they share their experiences. Ask your student to FaceTime and show you his or her room. Not taking care of surrounding spaces can be an indicator that things are not going well.

 Be Mindful of Behavioral Changes

Pay attention to any significant shifts in behavior, such as withdrawing from social activities, neglecting personal care, or expressing hopelessness.

 Normalize Mental Health Conversations

Please encourage your child to discuss their feelings and emotions without judgment openly. Normalize discussions about mental health to reduce stigma and make seeking help more comfortable.

 Familiarize Yourself with Available Resources

Research the mental health services and counseling options your child’s college provides. Familiarize yourself with on-campus counseling centers, hotlines, or support groups.

 Encourage Self-Care and Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Remind your child of the importance of self-care, maintaining a balanced lifestyle, and seeking positive coping mechanisms during stress.

Empower Counseling: Specializing in Counseling for College Students

Empower Counseling is a leading mental health service provider specializing in college counseling, catering to students’ unique needs and challenges. Our team of experienced counselors understands the pressures of college life and strives to create a safe and supportive environment for students to explore their feelings and concerns. We are conveniently located 5 minutes away from Samford’s campus and offer easy parking.

Here are reasons to Choose Empower Counseling for Counseling for College Students:

 Expertise in College Life

Empower counseling counselors possess extensive knowledge and experience in dealing with mental health challenges for college students.

 Tailored Support

Counseling sessions at Empower are customized to address individual needs, ensuring that each student receives personalized care and attention.

 Confidentiality and Non-Judgment

Empower counseling and coaching guarantees a confidential and non-judgmental space where students can freely express their emotions without fear of criticism or scrutiny.

Remember that seeking counseling is a courageous step towards improving your mental well-being, and Empower Counseling is there to assist you throughout this process.

Need Support? Reach Out For Counseling For College Students in Alabama Today!

The transition to college is undoubtedly a critical time for mental health. The challenges, pressures, and opportunities college students face can impact their emotional well-being significantly.

By recognizing and addressing mental health needs during this critical phase, we can empower college students to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally, setting them up for a successful and fulfilling future.

It is easy to get started!

    • Click here, scroll down, and send us a confidential message

    • We will reach back out ASAP.

    • Your student has someone to help.

Other Mental Health Services Offered at Empower Counseling in Alabama

Empower Counseling and Coaching provides many services, in addition to counseling for college students including Samford, Auburn, University of Alabama, and Birmingham-Southern College, including anxiety therapy, young adult counseling, teen counseling, difficult life transitions therapy, professionals counseling, life coaching, PTSD counseling, trauma counseling, depression counseling, and perfectionism counseling. Through personalized online or in-person counseling sessions, students can explore their strengths, set goals, and develop strategies to achieve them.


Share This:

Contact Empower