In part one, Nancy Wolf explained what you need to look for in your College Counseling Center. Read on to learn her tips for investigating other support systems at schools.
How Mental Health-Friendly Are Campus Activities?
You will need to do some digging beneath the surface of the website to figure this one out (or ask an expert for assistance.) But there are signs that will tell you if a campus is mental health-friendly — or not.
Look for a college that has a strong new student orientation program, an ongoing mentoring program (beyond academic advising), as well as staff, administration, professors, and residence advisors who are trained in mental health and wellness.
Another indicator that the campus values the mental health of its students is if there are active student-led chapters of mental health advocacy, awareness, and support groups such as NAMI on Campus, Active Minds, and/or the college itself has been certified as mental health compliant by the Jed Foundation.
Dig even more deeply to see if the university has a library that is open 24/7, with students sleeping in carrels (no comment) — or if the university places equal weight on academics and wellness — e.g. has programs on stress management, healthy relationships, substance abuse, and a college fitness center that offers yoga, meditation, or other relaxation techniques with accessible open hours.
Finding and going to a college that supports the mental health of its students as much as it promotes the academic rigor of its curriculum is important for everyone, but particularly so for students entering school with a mental illness.
For more information on this, and for more of Nancy Wolf’s advice on starting college with a mental illness, see part three of this article.