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A Message to Parents and Families of College Students

August 30, 2017

Attending college is an important achievement and exciting time in life. Your student will gain greater independence, meet new people and have memorable experiences. It is a time of significant change, which can be both positive and challenging.

The stress of college may have an impact on their mental health, making it difficult to navigate the daily demands of school. In fact, data from the spring 2016 National College Health Assessment showed at some point during the year:

  • As many as one in five students experience a mental health condition while in college
  • Over 80% of students feel completely overwhelmed by all they have to do
  • 60% feel very lonely
  • Another 60% experience overwhelming anxiety
  • Over a 1/3 of students reported feeling so depressed they could not function

The reality is that even during these years of personal and intellectual growth, students can benefit from additional support from you, their peers, and their college or university.

Research shows that your child’s ability to stay in school and perform at their best is closely tied to their emotional well-being. As a supportive family member, there is a lot you can do to help your child succeed:

  • Talk to your student about mental health, the importance of self-care, and where to go on campus for emotional or academic support. Check out some tips from JED and NAMI on how to start these conversations!
  • Connect with other parents via parent portals, parent councils, Facebook groups and online forums to discuss ways to get involved.
  • Advocate for resources and programming on your student’s campus that address mental health, such as JED Campus, our program designed to help schools comprehensively address the issues that impact student well-being.

How does JED Campus benefit your student?

  • We bring together diverse representatives from across campus to lead a community-wide effort to create a healthy culture that promotes emotional well-being and positive mental health.
  • We connect campus professionals with the tools and resources they need to help students develop life skills, enhance academic performance, and identify those who are at risk.
  • Our recommendations lead schools to adopt clear, transparent policies that support the mental and physical health of your child.
  • Our experience helps schools develop an effective response to crises, identify community partners who can widen the safety nets that protect students and expand resources that reduce shame and prejudice and connect students with the help they need.

By helping schools take action to support the emotional well-being of students, we are creating environments where your student can feel ready to tackle the challenges of college life and excel. Learn more:

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The World Health Organization defines “mental health” “as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” In using this definition, S2i recognizes that some mental health challenges reflect brain diseases that, like physical diseases, require appropriate stigma-free and patient-centered care and include both mental health and substance use disorders. Other mental health challenges stem from social conditions and marginalization and require different forms of interventions.