4 mental health challenges that are unique to college students
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Mental health can be hard to manage, especially for college students. The many facets of college life can exacerbate mental health disorders. Most students manage classes, sports, extracurriculars and social events. Nearly three-quarters of students in one national survey reported experiencing significant psychological distress

Are you a young adult struggling to manage your mental health? You’re not alone. Discover some of the challenges that college students commonly encounter. Learn how a virtual intensive outpatient program (vIOP) can help you.

What are some of the top mental health challenges college students face?

Many mental health challenges might uniquely affect a college student. Some of the key challenges include:

  • Changes or disruptions to sleep habits Pulling an all-nighter to study for an exam the next day. Early-morning sports practices. These are just some of the ways college can create changes to a young person’s sleep schedule. Sleep schedule changes can cause a lack of sleep, which can worsen your mental health and make mental health problems worse.

  • Anxiety — Another major challenge that many students in college face is dealing with anxiety disorders that affect their mental health. Anxiety disorders can impact your participation during classes, the quality of your academic work, and even your sports performance. If left unmanaged, anxiety disorders can create effects that lead to other mental health issues like depression.

  • Eating disorders — Eating disorders are another common obstacle to mental health on college campuses. Many young student-athletes struggle with eating-related challenges due to sports-related pressure. And they’re not the only students who may struggle in this way. According to research, nearly 10% to 20% of women and 4% to 10% of men on college campuses have eating disorders.

  • Substance use disorders — The risk of developing a substance use disorder is high for young adults navigating college life. Many college students choose to drink excessively and use drugs, which can harm their mental health. For some, these substances can lead to dangerous dependencies. For others, they can exacerbate the symptoms of preexisting mental health conditions.

How can a virtual intensive outpatient program (vIOP) help college students’ mental health?

vIOPs have significant potential to impact a college student’s mental health positively. Some of the top advantages include:

  • Encouraging students to stay in school — Alternative outpatient programs can add stress to college life as they require commuting to in-person sessions. But a virtual program provides convenient treatment access. It also encourages students to address their mental health within their school environment. It helps many students avoid the need to drop out of their college classes.
  • Teaching students what healthy coping skills are — College students are at risk for developing unhealthy coping skills, such as substance use. A vIOP can help students learn skills to manage their mental health conditions safely and effectively. They can then apply these skills to their daily lives.

  • Providing access to medication — Students can schedule a visit with a psychiatrist to see if they need medication for their mental health. The psychiatrist can then evaluate their condition. If necessary, they can then provide a prescription for medicine, like an antidepressant. This scenario can often take place either the same day or the next day. As a result, virtual clinicians can provide fast access to medication to those who need it. This also means no more dealing with clinic wait times and transportation. 

Lightfully can help college students who are facing mental health challenges

Our mission at Lightfully is to provide high-quality mental health care to various types of clients. We believe in using a focused approach called process-based therapy, with each client’s plan fully customized for their needs. We also use clearly defined, data-driven and whole-person-centered care. Our clinicians have worked with various mental health disorders of all ages. 

Our Lightfully U program services college students through a Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (vIOP). It provides students with convenient and flexible access to evidence-based mental health care. Our vIOP provides all the same benefits of a traditional IOP, but with the added comfort of attending sessions from home. Our online program for college students consists of weekly process-based therapy sessions, family therapy sessions, group sessions and experiential activities. Our clients also have access to alumni workshops and resources for additional support. For college students seeking near-immediate treatment, we can provide same-day Lightfully U admissions.

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step toward a brighter version of yourself, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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