Mental health. These are two words that are not mentioned often in the lives of low-income students. Oftentimes, money is the first word that is mentioned in low-income families. But stress and anxiety, among other emotions, can manifest themselves when money becomes the main stressor. Although money may be an inevitable stressor for low-income students, taking care of yourself should be a priority above all. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to accomplish as much as you’d like.
So, as a college student, what should you do if you think stress if affecting you in a negative way? At every college, there is a CAPS center, or something similar. CAPS stands for “Counseling and Psychological Services.” If you reach out to CAPS at your (future) college, you can get in contact with a professional who you will be able to talk openly with.
If it is your first time reaching out for help, just the thought of making that first move can be cringe-inducing. Think about a close friend you can confide in who would be able to make the trip to the CAPS center with you. After scheduling an appointment, realize that you’re already halfway there. You were courageous enough to reach out for help, something that a lot of students are afraid to do, especially during their first year. Once you have an appointment, it’s important to set expectations. These sessions may not provide you with an immediate solution, but you will be able to discuss your options and your thoughts with a professional.
Other than CAPS, some universities offer free meditative sessions and wellness sessions in which you learn meditative techniques that can help reduce stress. For instance, Wesleyan’s health center offered a weekly wellness session every Monday throughout November that taught us certain de-stressing techniques, such as coloring mandalas, taking deep breaths, collaging, and other more in-depth techniques like “tapping,” which includes reaffirming the love one has for themselves.
As a Quest community, we not only want you to succeed in college, but we want you to be healthy. Help de-stigmatize mental health issues if you believe you, or your friends, are in need help. Reaching out to someone is the first step. It is okay to ask for help. It is okay to change your methods for coping and it’s okay to switch therapists. Keep in mind that taking care of yourself should be a priority – not an option – when you transition into higher academia.