Turning a Frown into a Smile

How to Support Your College Student with Mental Health Concerns

It is never easy to send your precious baby off. It was hard on the first day of kindergarten, and it’s just as hard on the first day of college. But remember, when that time comes, you must be strong and supportive. Three in five college students are diagnosed with mental health illness according to a survey conducted by The Harris Poll.

I told my mom about my mental health during my freshman year of college. Lucky for me, she only lives 15 minutes away from my campus. Although she does not fully understand the state of mental health in America for students, she still tried her best to cheer me up.

Remember you are not perfect; you may not be able to always brighten up their day. You may not be their go-to person, but you are their rock and their home, so be there for them when they need you to be.

Paw Eh Wah, Mother of a Graduate from the University of Northwestern – St. Paul

As sad as it is to let go of your child, remember they may also be struggling with some sort of mental health, and you can set them up for success with the following 4 strategies.

1. Call to Check on Them

Unless you are your child’s best friend, you are probably not the first person they call regarding their mental health. So you call them! But do not overwhelm them with too many questions. Call two to three times a week and adjust to their needs. Never force them to have a conversation when they are not ready. You know your student best, create a comfortable, safe space for them to talk to you.

2. Send Them Surprise Gift Boxes

Send or bring them gift boxes once a month or once every semester whatever they seem to enjoy. The gift boxes or baskets can include their favorite sweets, tea, coffee, mug, anything to bring a smile to their faces. Don’t forget the home hand-written note.

3. Visit Them

This is an obvious one, but don’t forget to visit them. They may say no; worrying they may cause an inconvenience to you, but still make the effort to fly or make the drive to visit them. Take them out to their visit restaurants, places, or events. Being there for them physically can help reduce the stress.

4. Cook Them Their Favorite Meal

Something that my mom is comfortable doing is cooking meals for me. Once a week she asked what I was craving for and made it for me. Her meals would last me for a couple of days. Food brings comfort, cook them their favorite meals or bake them their favorite dessert.

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