Saturday, July 21, 2012

Kudos to College's Stance on Mental Wellness

I'm in college mode. First kiddie-wink is heading off to college. I'm excited and petrified at the same time, as I recall my college adventures and a few mis-adventures. I went the route of the Freshman Focus program where they hand hold the incoming freshmen with a detailed, multi-day orientation process about the college and services.

At first, I moaned the fact that I'd be sitting through boring accounts and testimonies of college life. Should I bring my Nook to read as they waxed poetic about the founder and his contributions to the community? Should I have a secret stash of candy to inject needed sugar into the system after faculty number 15 talked about what he/she did at the campus? Should I skip the entire thing and just deal with stuff as it happens?

I was a good girl. I attended, paid attention, and actually learned a thing or two.

By the time the administration had completed the session, I wanted to re-enroll and enjoy the college experience again. As a parent, I was most impressed by their openness and attention to talking about mental health. We've heard about the tragic cases when students have mental breakdowns and the hellish aftermath of their consequences. But not all cases have such extreme outcomes. In many cases, students just simply are  a bit overwhelmed with this sudden thrust into adulthood.

The college kept reiterating - this is not the 13th grade. Parents can't come in and talk on your behalf. No one is going to remind you of upcoming projects or inquire if you're on track. The study time for each class isn't always taken into consideration.  Most kids get a part-time or full time job, along with carrying a significant number of college credits, and face imminent meltdown.

Thank you to the college for recognizing and placing mental wellness at the forefront of college success. The services are free to students. They are encouraged to get help. Mental wellness was not presented as if it needs to be your dirty little secret. I've talked about it with my child, soon to be adult. I encouraged her to seek help whenever she thinks the rollercoaster is moving too fast, too rough, or too sluggish. We take our kids for annual physicals, annual dentist, and annual eye exams, why would psyche not need some TLC, too.

Sometimes, we all need a bit of therapy and life coaching to get us through life. What's wrong with that.

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