CENTRAL ILLINOIS — When your child heads off to college, you worry about how they’ll get along with their roommate, if they are eating right, and of course, their grades. But what you may not think about is their mental health.
Mackenzie Newman is a senior at Bradley University. She says she thought she knew what starting college would be like, but was surprised by how quickly the responsibilities came.
“College progressively gets more stressful as you go up,” said Newman. “There’s no calling mom and dad and saying, ‘hey can you come help me?'”
According to a report released by the American Council on Education, 80% of university presidents say the mental health of students is a priority now more than it’s ever been.
“This is not something that is going to solve itself or end in the next couple years,” said Nathan Thomas Vice President of Student Affairs at Bradley University. “These are pieces of the conversation on the national landscape that have just changed drastically.”
Searching for new ways to help more students, Thomas, and the university have become more proactive.
“One of the additions that we added is part-time counselor,” said Thomas. “They also do group sessions which would be new for us.”
The University also empowers its resident assistants to create a comfortable environment for students in which the Resident Assistants, or RA’s, can let them know counseling is not embarrassing.
“I knew that going to her (RA),” said Newman. “I could get her opinion first, and then she could lead me to say, ‘well counseling services has a lot of really great opportunities, it sounds like you could really benefit from having a chat with them’.”
For other students, it can be tough to enter the student counseling doors. ISU’s Director of Student Counseling, Sandy Colbs says, those within the University’s community now have more responsibilities.
“We really tried to create what we call a community of care,” said Colbs. “Where everyone in the university community is equipped to recognize when students are struggling, and to get them to the help that they need.”
Recent studies show when students are dealing with a mental health issue, they can be distracted and perform poorly, in and out of the classroom.
Thanks to advancements in technology, ISU now has new ways of contacting students beyond in-person sessions.
“Some students may not be ready to engage in individual psychotherapy per se,” said Colbs. “But they might respond really well to an app or an online program or a drop-in workshop.”
Central Illinois university leaders want to make sure you are continuing to check in on your student’s mental health.