Mental Health Coping Techniques and Skills for College Students
Other Coping Skills and Techniques
- Value yourself: Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-criticism. Make time for your hobbies and favorite projects, or broaden your horizons. Do a daily crossword puzzle, plant a garden, take dance lessons, learn to play an instrument or become fluent in another language.
- Take care of your body: Taking care of yourself physically can improve your mental health. Be sure to:
- Eat nutritious meals
- Avoid cigarettes
- Drink plenty of water
- Exercise, which helps decrease depression and anxiety and improve moods
- Get enough sleep. Researchers believe that lack of sleep contributes to a high rate of depression in college students.
- Surround yourself with good people: People with strong family or social connections are generally healthier than those who lack a support network. Make plans with supportive family members and friends, or seek out activities where you can meet new people, such as a club, class or support group.
- Give yourself: Volunteer your time and energy to help someone else. You'll feel good about doing something tangible to help someone in need — and it's a great way to meet new people.
- Learn how to deal with stress: Like it or not, stress is a part of life. Practice good coping skills: Try One-Minute Stress Strategies, do Tai Chi, exercise, take a nature walk, play with your pet or try journal writing as a stress reducer. Also, remember to smile and see the humor in life. Research shows that laughter can boost your immune system, ease pain, relax your body and reduce stress.
- Quiet your mind: Try meditating, Mindfulness and/or prayer. Relaxation exercises and prayer can improve your state of mind and outlook on life. In fact, research shows that meditation may help you feel calm and enhance the effects of therapy.
- Set realistic goals: Decide what you want to achieve academically, professionally and personally, and write down the steps you need to realize your goals. Aim high, but be realistic and don't over-schedule. You'll enjoy a tremendous sense of accomplishment and self-worth as you progress toward your goal
- Break up the monotony: Although our routines make us more efficient and enhance our feelings of security and safety, a little change of pace can perk up a tedious schedule. Alter your jogging route, plan a road-trip, take a walk in a different park, hang some new pictures or try a new restaurant.
- Avoid alcohol and other drugs: Keep alcohol use to a minimum and avoid other drugs. Sometimes people use alcohol and other drugs to "self-medicate" but in reality, alcohol and other drugs only aggravate problems.
- Get help when you need it: Seeking help is a sign of strength — not a weakness. And it is important to remember that treatment is effective. People who get appropriate care can recover from mental illness and addiction and lead full, rewarding lives.
*Adapted from the National Mental Health Association/National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- For general information on mental health and to locate treatment services in your area, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Treatment Referral Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
- University or medical school-affiliated programs may offer treatment options.
- National agencies and advocacy and professional organizations:
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America (240) -485-1001
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
- Mental Health America
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
- Some federal agencies offer resources for identifying practitioners and assistance in finding low cost health services. These include:
- Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA): HRSA works to improve access to health care. The website has information on finding affordable healthcare, including health centers that offer care on a sliding fee scale.
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS): CMS has information on the website about benefits and eligibility for these programs and how to enroll.
- The National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus website also has lists of directories and organizations that can help in identifying a health practitioner.
- Practitioner lists in health care plans can provide mental health professionals that participate with your plan.
- Mental Health and Addiction Insurance Help: This website from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers resources to help answer questions about insurance coverage for mental health care.
Psychology Today offers a national directory of therapists, psychiatrists, therapy groups and treatment facility options.
SAMHSA Treatment Locator provides referrals to low cost/sliding scale mental health care, substance abuse and dual diagnosis treatment. Phone: 800-662-4357
Learn more about treatment and services.
Suicide and Crisis
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention provides referrals to support groups, mental health professionals, resources on loss and suicide prevention information. Phone: 1-888-333-2377
The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides 24/7 crisis intervention, safety planning and information on domestic violence. Phone: 1-800-799-7233
Mental Health Conditions
Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) provides information on prevention, treatment and symptoms of anxiety, depression and related conditions. Phone: 240-485-1001
Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) provides information and referrals on ADHD, including local support groups. Phone: 800-233-4050
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) provides information on bipolar disorder and depression, offers in-person and online support groups and forums. Phone: 1-800-826-3632
International OCD Foundation provides information on OCD and treatment referrals. Phone: 617-973-5801
Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America (SARDAA) maintains the Schizophrenia Anonymous programs, which are self-help groups and are now available as toll free teleconferences. Phone: 240-423-9432
Sidran Institute helps people understand, manage and treat trauma and dissociation; maintains a helpline for information and referrals. Phone: 410-825-8888
TARA (Treatment and Research Advancements for Borderline Personality Disorder)offers a referral center for information, support, education and treatment options for BPD. Phone: 1-888-482-7227
Research & Statistics
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) provides information on statistics, clinical trials and research. NAMI references NIMH statistics for our website and publications. Phone: 1-866-615-6464
Allsup provides non-attorney representation when applying for SSDI. Phone: 800-279-4357
HealthCare.gov provides specific information about coverage options in your state, includes private options, high risk pools and other public programs. Phone: 1-800-318-2596
Needhelppayingbills.com provides information on state and local assistance programs, charity organizations and resources that provide help paying bills, mortgage assistance, debt relief and more.
NeedyMeds provides information on available patient assistance programs. Phone: 1-800-503-6897
Partnership for Prescription Assistance helps qualifying individuals without prescription drug coverage get the medications they need.
Advocacy and Legal
Legal Services Corporation provides civil legal aid to low-income Americans. Use their website to find programs in individual states. Scroll to the bottom of their website to find locate legal aid near you.
National Bar Association provides a directory of state and local bar associations to help find legal representation.
National Disability Rights Network (State Protection and Advocacy Agencies) protects the civil rights of individuals with disabilities, particularly in hospitals and state prison systems. Click on the map on the right-hand side of their website to locate the agency near you.
Community Support Services
Clubhouse International provides a directory of clubhouses. Clubhouses provide opportunities for education, employment and social activities. Click the 'International Directory' tab on their website to find contact information for local clubhouses.
www.homelessshelterdirectory.org provides a national directory of homeless shelters, assistance programs, soup kitchens and more.
Job Accommodation Network is an organization that provides resources and guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues. Their website includes a directory of state vocational rehabilitation offices. Phone: 800-526-7234
2-1-1 Dial 2-1-1 from a local phone or use their website to search for organizations that offer local support resources and services.