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15 Mental Health Stories You Need to Read in Time for Going Back to School or College

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Editor's Note

Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.

It’s that time of year again — we’re in the midst of the “back to school” season. It’s a stressful time no matter what stage you’re at — whether you’re sending your kid off to school, or you’re heading to college. Making it all the more stressful, though, is living with a mental illness. Making new friends feels impossible when you struggle with social anxiety. (Believe me, I’ve been there.) Making it to all your classes feels impossible when depression makes it a chore to even get out of bed.

We’ve published a lot of stories over the years from people who have been in those exact situations, and more. So, whatever your experience with school and mental health, we’ve got you covered. Continue reading for a selection of stories on everything from sending your kid with a mental illness back to school, to taking a mental health break from college or seeking health accommodations. Remember: You’re not alone in this. Others have sat exactly where you are now, and they’ve shared their experiences right here.

If Your Child With a Mental Illness Is Returning to School

1. “How to Better Care for Your Child’s Mental Health As They Return to School This Year” by Ashley Nestler MSW

This is a strange time. For many, this is the first time returning to in-person teaching since virtual or hybrid learning, so Ashley Nestler chats with Dr. Anisha Patel-Dunn, D.O., psychiatrist, mom of two, and chief medical officer at LifeStance Health about how we can better care for the mental health of our children as they begin a new school year in these strange new circumstances.

2. “What Parents and Teachers Need to Know About Kids With a Mental Illness” by Rachel Lagasse

Whether you’re a teacher or a parent, it’s important to know certain truths about the children under your care who may have a mental illness. These lessons come directly from someone who has been there.

3. “How to Tell If You Should Take Your Child to the Mental Health Hospital” by Kimberly Zapata

There are too few resources that describe what to do if your kid is having a mental health emergency, so Kimberly Zapata asked mental health experts for their advice. 

If You’re in High School and You’re Struggling With Your Mental Health

4. “10 Things I Wish I Had Been Told About Mental Health in High School” by Amber Simmons

It’s no secret that we need to openly talk about mental health more so that people can understand what’s going on when it happens, but also so that they know what to do about it. One month into college, Amber learned so much about her mental health. These are the lessons she wishes she’d been taught in high school.

5. “5 Tips I Wish I’d Known for Surviving High School With a Mental Illness” by Arden Light

Surviving high school with a mental illness can feel a little like everything is against you. Arden shares some tips she wishes she had known for her own high school career. The first tip is one of my favorites!

6. “I Felt I Had to Choose Between School and My Mental Health” by Alexis Dorn

School is important, of course, but your health is so much more important. With all of the stressors of high school — researching colleges, maintaining a good GPA, and participating in extracurricular activities — it can have a dramatic effect on your mental health. Alexis shares her own experience and the lesson she ultimately carried away.

If You’re Going to College and You’re Worried About Your Mental Health

7. “12 Reminders for Students Going to College With a Mental Illness” by Sarah Schuster

As Sarah says, going to college is both challenging and exciting. You might be stepping out on your own for the first time, or beginning work on a subject you want to make your eventual career. With that comes a lot of changes and stressors that might be harder to deal with if you live with a mental illness. These reminders are here to help you start on the right foot.

8. “5 Tips If Your Mental Illness Is Interfering With College” by J. Rose

In this article, J. Rose offers some great tips on how to manage your mental illness while ensuring you do not tie your self-worth to academic achievement.

9. “The Mental Health Risks and Warning Signs to Recognize When You’re Starting College” by Katie Frauenfelder

It’s good to be prepared. Regardless of your current experience with your mental health, it’s important to know the warning signs of various mental illnesses when you’re starting college. This sometimes high-stress, high-expectation environment can really affect our well-being. Check out Katie’s advice for what to know.

What to Know About Health Accommodations at College or University

10. “Applying for Disability Accommodations at College and University” by Julia Metraux

Part of a series of resource guides on navigating special education and disability services at various education levels, this article shares specific advice for how to apply for accommodations regardless of your diagnoses. This is a great place to start.

11. “How It Really Felt to Get Academic Accommodations for My Mental Illness” by Chloé

Seeking accommodations for the first time might come with a lot of complex feelings, especially when society says there is something wrong with seeking accommodations at all. Chloé’s candid article describes the shame and anger she felt, and how she moved through it.

12. “9 Tips for Requesting Academic Accommodations for Chronic Illness” by Annie Basil

While geared toward chronic illness, these tips also apply to seeking accommodations for mental illness. If your mental health affects or is affected by your academic career, then you deserve to seek accommodations. 

What to Know About Taking a Mental Health Break From College

13. “What to Know If You’re Considering Leaving College for Your Mental Health” by Sofia Driscoll

If you’re thinking it might be time to take a break from college or university for your mental health, this is a great place to start. Sofia has gone through the exact process and shares her experience.

14. “5 Signs It Might Be Time to Take a Mental Health Leave From College” by Fountain House College Re-Entry

Written by Jason Bowman, the creator and Director of Fountain House’s College Re-Entry Program, which helps 18 to 30-year-old college students return to college after mental health leave, these five signs are a good touchstone to measure your relationship with college right now.

15. “Why Making the Decision to Leave College for My Mental Health Was Difficult, but Necessary” by Amy Jade

If you’re still unsure if it’s the right thing to do, let Amy’s article reassure you that, after initially feeling guilty that she was “letting people down,” it was worth it.

Getty image by Drazen Zigic

Originally published: September 12, 2022
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