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  • Writer's pictureChange the Response

Student Mental Health Guide

Congratulations to you on the beginning of your college career!

Looking after your Mental Health is as important as your studies.

Good Mental Health for college students is a balance of:

· Studying - This Is What You Are Here For! & Enjoying the Experience

· Staying Connected to People & Developing Independence

· Academics: Learning Group Work & Mastering Independent Study

· Managing Your Own Feelings & Managing Your Responses

Going to college is exciting, it is also quite daunting and every one of you will feel afraid at some point. That’s ok. It is part of the experience.

Yes, you are at college to learn academically but you will also learn about who you are now and who you want to be and how you want to be in this world.

· Everything Is A Choice – (Even When It Doesn’t Seem Obvious)

You have choices to make, more freedom than before, more power. Use it wisely! Use your independence and freedom in a way that works for you, not against you.

You may not choose your circumstances but you can choose your response to them. It’s a work in progress and with practice Changing the Response to something that works better, gets easier and easier. Think of it as a new habit to practice.

Be Your Own Best Friend

· For the most part we want the best for the ones we love. It is harder to turn the lens around to ourselves. If in doubt ask yourself “Would I do this or want this to happen to my best friend or someone that I really love?”

That will help you work out what to do when you are not sure.

Studying - This Is What You Are Here For! & Enjoying the Experience

Enjoying the Experience: Balance

· Work towards getting the balance of having a good time and getting your college course completed.

· There are new people to meet, new experiences to have. This is where you will have the freedom to choose. There will be opportunities to party, new relationships.

· Peer pressure is very strong. “Everyone is doing it” type mentality.

· Have fun, but be clear on your choices.

· If the enjoyment of the experience is getting in the way of your academic work, then the balance is off! Equally if you are focusing too much on academics and not enjoying the experience, the balance is off!

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize.

Staying Connected to People & Developing Independence

Student life is both exciting and daunting. In the first few weeks of term, it is natural to feel excited and afraid. You want to make the best impression you can, everybody does.

It is also natural that you might feel lonely, a little homesick and be missing people.

· Keep in touch with the people in your life that matter.

· Be as open as you can be with them about how you are experiencing student life. It is important for you that somebody other than you knows how you really are coping vs the impression you want to give.

Making New Friends:

So many opportunities to meet people! The friends you first make may not be the only friends you will have during your time at college.

Being at college will test your Boundaries. Your Boundaries are knowing about yourself

· What is ok for me?

· What is not ok for me?

Think about the impact other people have on you

Think about how your words and actions impact on others.

Developing Independence:

You have different views to others, they will have different views to you. Being independent is about knowing which thoughts are yours and deciding your own values and thoughts. Tolerating opinions you don’t agree with is part of life.

Be independent but stay connected.

Academics: Independent Study & Learning The Art of Group Work

· It’s not the time spent it is what you have learned in that time. You could tell yourself “I spent 2 hours studying”. A more effective question is, “What do I understand now or know that I did not 2 hours ago”.

· When you are approaching a piece of work consider the question:

What am I being asked to do?

Read the question FIRST! Make sure you answer the question you are asked.

If you don’t understand the question, take the time to understand it or ask your professor. This is time well spent!

· For example, if you were on a journey and realized you were lost what would you do?

a) Keep driving and hope to get there somehow. You might get there but it could take you longer and be more stressful.

b) Stop, think, look at a map or ask for directions – you will get there quicker and with less stress.

Your answer depends on how you usually approach your work. Is your method working?

If not Change the Response that you have been making to something that works better for you and gets the job done!

It is ok not to know. It is ok not to understand. So, stop and think! Think about what you know and what to do next.

Group Projects:

Group Projects will press all your buttons! It is worth making a plan with the group. Here is what can happen if it not agreed and planned:

· Someone will do more.

· Someone will do less.

· Someone might do nothing.

· You may all get the same grade!

All of this is avoidable

Successful group projects have these elements in common:

· Understanding the task.

· Good planning of how it will be completed

· Clear understanding of what each person is doing and by when.

· Good communication in the group.

· Regroup, Rethink along the way if you need to. Timescales may change, content may change. The goal doesn’t change.

Each of you will bring different qualities to the group, work with the strengths that each of you bring.

Time Management:

· The biggest reason that academic work is late (or why people are late!) is that they UNDERESTIMATE how much time the assignment will take.

Think about how long you think it takes to get ready in the morning vs the actual time it takes!

The college assignment that is submitted on time is better than the brilliant essay not completed.

Managing Your Own Feelings & Managing Your Responses

· Our feelings just are. They come along like buses on their own schedule.

· Feelings are not facts. You may sometimes feel that you are not sure what to do. There is always something you can do. Hold onto that.

· Feelings often conflict with other feelings, that’s ok, it is what makes us human.


· Anxiety happens when we feel overwhelmed by the situation.

· Everybody feels anxious at times. Anxiety is an emotion that can be managed.

· When you feel anxious it is hard to think clearly.

· Anxiety would have you believe there are no solutions and the situation is too hard.

· There are always solutions – hold onto that thought.

Feelings are not facts


· Anger is a human emotion; we all feel it. What you do with your feelings is your own

responsibility. That takes practice!

For example: “That person made me angry”.

Consider it this way: “I am angry and it is difficult for me to feel this way”.

· Getting angry is part of being a person. What you do with it is up you. Anger is a source of


· It is the difference between lighting the fire (positive) and burning the house down! (negative)

Which is the better choice?!

It is never too late to Change the Response. Who you are now is not who you have to be in the future. How you deal with problems can change over time by looking at what works for you.

Focus on the solution not the problem.

Remember, this is all do-able. If you feel that you need some help, don’t struggle alone.

Enjoy your time. For every problem there is always a solution. You might need to get some help. That’s ok too.

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