TWIN CITIES, Ill. (WMBD) — Graduating from college is a huge accomplishment. But for some post-college depression can drown out the remnants of success.
“I think, for one, recognizing that it’s much more common than what we talk about,” said Dr. Jojo Mitchell, Director of Counseling and Consultation Services at Illinois Wesleyan University.
Mitchell said graduation and post-college depression is a bit of a grief process.
“Your whole life for how many ever years had been so focused and so lived in a certain way. And to suddenly leave that life, it’s a transition. And I think there’s some grief that can come up in that,” Mitchell said.
The last semester of college and months after walking across the stage can be overwhelming as people spend time studying, looking for jobs, housing, and a therapist. For those who have been working with a therapist throughout their matriculation, it’s important not to get overwhelmed when looking for a new mental health professional.
Dr. Gina Meyer, Associate Director for Training at Illinois State University Student Counseling Services, said prior to graduation, it’s good to start the conversation about continuation of care and what that could look like for an individual.
“I think it can be helpful for clients, if they’re open to signing a release of information, allowing for verbal exchange between the prior therapist and the new therapist because some of that information can be transferred over,” said Meyer. “You can catch up the new therapist to what you’ve been working on, what’s the progress, what are the goals, and kind of what are you’ve discussed for future directions for therapy.”
Dr. Sam Kahl, Staff Psychologist at Illinois State University, reminds clients that they are paying for a service. So, if a client-therapist relationship isn’t working, then it’s okay to get a new therapist.
“Fire your therapist if it’s not working out for you,” Kahl said.
Kahl has a few tips for people to consider when searching for a new therapist.
“So pay attention to how you feel in the room, how you feel with this person. How did they respond when you tell them about things that worked well for you or didn’t work well for you in therapy in the past? Are they receptive to that?” said Kahl. “Do you feel like they’re respecting what you’re saying, respecting your identities? Do you feel like they’re listening to you?”
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in 2021, there were 1.7 million suicide attempts. People struggling with suicidal thoughts can dial 988 to connect with the crisis hotline.