5 Tips for Protecting Your Mental Health at College

1. Get involved on campus.

Even if you commute to school, make connections with other students. You could join (or start!) a study group with other commuters in a class, or join a student organization. These connections can be very meaningful across the course of your life.

If you have a mental health diagnosis, consider connecting with other students through an ActiveMinds group.

college students on campus

Make connections with other students. Join a study group or student organization. Attend a regular class at the campus gym. Volunteer with a service or advocacy group.

2. Connect with Disability Services.

Most schools offer various forms of support to their students who experience mental illness. These services can include note-takers, extended time on tests and projects, and specialized tutoring for difficult classes. Use these services; they can significantly reduce the stress and anxiety associated with academics.

3. Introduce yourself to your professors.

Whether you stop by for office hours or simply walk up and introduce yourself after class, make an effort to meet your professors. Doing this, combined with participating in class, will pay off when you need something from your professors, whether it be a reference letter or just some help understanding a difficult concept.

4. Practice good self-care.

Cultivate an awareness of how much sleep is best for your body (generally no fewer than 6 and no more than 8 hours a night). Plan your meals ahead of time so you don’t end up eating junk food exclusively. Be willing to make tough choices and say “No” to some opportunities if they interfere with getting good rest, good food, and good leisure time.  

5. Remember that you are not your grades.

Your grades can measure many things:  how thoroughly you prepared, how connected you were with the subject, how you were feeling on a given day, etc… they cannot measure you. Do your best, and more importantly, stay connected to the many other things you bring into the world. Read this at least once a week if you start forgetting this.