Things to Remember Before Starting a Mental Health Treatment Plan

Author’s Note: This article is based off of personal experiences, and should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult a doctor before starting or stopping any medication.

 

May is finally here, which means Mental Health Awareness Month has come around again at last. College can be an extremely stressful and overwhelming time for everyone, bringing all sorts of different challenges to deal with such as balancing schoolwork, jobs, internships, extracurriculars, and maintaining personal relationships. Because of this, it’s important that students everywhere strive to maintain a healthy mental state for the sake of their well-being while on their own at school. One in four adults experience mental illness in a given year, with anxiety being the top concern among college students. A whole 41.6% of us have this on our plate on top of dealing with school.

During my freshmen year of college I have had to learn how to better take care of myself, especially when it came to my mental health. In my first semester away at school, I experienced my first panic attack, took my first trip to my school’s mental health clinic, and attempted different methods of meditation and relaxation. It wasn’t until over winter break that I realized what I was experiencing could be due to a mental illness. After a lot of thought and conversations with my doctor and my parents, I made the decision to begin taking prescribed medication for my generalized anxiety. However, different treatment methods can be more effective than others, and some methods may not work the right way for everyone. If you’re making the courageous decision to treat your mental illness, here are some important things to take into account!

Talk to your doctor, a counselor or someone you trust.

If you’re interested in starting a mental health treatment plan but don’t know where to begin, start by talking to trusted individual for support and advice. This could be a friend, CA, parent, teacher or even your doctor. Talking about what is bothering you can help you to figure out the next steps moving forward in finding a plan that works for you.

Be informed.

Be sure to look at your options and know that some treatment plans don’t work for everyone. While meditation and de-stressing tactics do the trick for some people, for others it might not be enough. Other people may want to start first with medication rather than trying other treatment methods before that. You may have to try out different treatment methods to see what works best for you. It’s critical however that you consult either a counselor or a doctor before starting any type of treatment plan, and absolutely do not start any prescription of medication without approval from a physician.

Remember, it takes time.

Most likely, you will not see results right away. When I first started my medication I was told that it would take at least 2-3 weeks before I would notice a difference. It may even take a month or two to see if you feel like you’ve been improving with your treatment plan or not. The important thing to remember is to be patient, because good things take time.

You are not crazy, nor are you weak.

If anything, you’re incredibly strong and brave for realizing that you need to help yourself.  There may be quite a lot of negative stigma that comes along with mental illnesses, but you should never feel judged for taking the right steps to improving your well-being.

You are not alone.

Thousands of college students are going through similar situations, and it’s way more common than you think. That’s why it’s important that everyone takes action to improve mental health in students and reduce the negative stigma that comes along with it. There are so many resources, student groups and even group counseling services on campus that are dedicated to these things, where you can take comfort in knowing that there are other students who are going through the same thing.

Here are some great additional mental health resources that you can check out as well!

Student Mental Health Twin Cities Campus: http://www.mentalhealth.umn.edu/

Active Minds—Empowering Students to Speak Openly about Mental Health: http://www.activeminds.org/issues-a-resources/mental-health-resources

The Mighty—A Safe Platform to Share Your Mental Health Story, Connect with Others, and Raise Support: 

Crisis Connection 24 hour Counseling Hotline: (612) 301-4673

Remember, you are worth it, Gophers!