by Dr. Stacia' Alexander, LPC-S
The winter break is a time for students to take a break, regroup and replenish from the rigors of college life. While many consider it a joyous time to celebrate and spend time with friends and family, there is an increasing number of students leaving campuses in the next few weeks who are not feeling like themselves. They are struggling with their feelings for various reasons and are stuffing those feelings instead of getting help. How can you be the parent to address the differences you see instead of passively hoping things will get better?
Talking to your college student about depression can be a difficult but important conversation. Here are some steps you can take to help make the conversation go smoothly:
Start by expressing your concern in a caring and non-judgmental way. Let your college student know that you are there to support them and that you are worried about their well-being.
Ask open-ended questions and listen actively to your college student's responses. Avoid interrupting or trying to fix their problems, and instead, focus on understanding their perspective and experiences.
Encourage your college student to seek help from a mental health professional, and offer to help them find a therapist or counselor if needed.
Offer to help your college student manage their symptoms and improve their mental health. This could include offering to help with daily tasks, making sure they are eating well and getting enough sleep, and providing emotional support.
Remember to take care of yourself as well. Supporting a loved one with depression can be emotionally taxing, so make sure to practice self-care and seek support from others if needed.
Overall, the key is to approach the conversation with empathy and understanding and to encourage your college student to seek professional help if needed. By supporting your college student and helping them manage their depression, you can play a crucial role in their recovery.
Additional guidance on addressing depression in college students and other mental health challenges can be found in "10+ Things I Wish I Knew About Mental Health in College."