College Transitions: Mental Health for New Students

Person sitting on a park bench looking at her phone

The college transition can stir up mixed feelings for students and family members. The transition is exciting for many students, but some find it emotionally challenging or even overwhelming. Some choose to keep their distress a secret, concerned about worrying family or fearing they have failed.

As a family member, how can you help? Encourage your student to acknowledge their doubts and remind them that this is a normal part of a transition. Remind them that you understand and accept their anxiety, sadness, and/or homesickness. If these feelings continue beyond a few weeks or seem too intense, encourage them to connect with campus resources. Their Resident Assistant (RA) is a great place to start, as is the Student Counseling Service (SCS).

The Student Counseling Service offers services such as brief individual counseling, group counseling, workshops, and crisis consultation. We assess students' concerns and functioning through routine and urgent appointments to match them to the appropriable level of care. Students’ engagement in services at SCS is confidential and we will not share information without their written consent, including with their parents. Adherence to confidentiality is one reason students feel comfortable sharing important information with their therapist.

SCS knows that many students are already engaged in mental health treatment. Your student should maintain their relationship with their current provider, if possible. We recognize that SCS may not offer the appropriate level of care for all students. Read the SCS Scope of Services to determine if SCS is an appropriate level of care for your student. Students who need extended care should connect with a community provider. Consult the list of providers in the Oxford area or speak with a staff member from SCS for help finding a provider.

Your student’s transition might be stressful for you too, which is completely normal! Try to be mindful of your tone and maintain a degree of optimism and hope when interacting with your student. You have prepared them well, they got this and, if they struggle, we’re here to help.