by Marianne M. O’Hare, PhD,
New Jersey Licensed Psychologist
Making the transition and adjusting to college life is not always an easy process. You have just left or will shortly leave everyone that you love and who provides you with support. You may have left lovers, pets, and good friends. You are moving into a room with strangers (who may be very different from yourself) after having your own room for maybe seventeen years. No one knows you or cares about your accomplishments. And you know no one, but you’ll try to find a group and fit in.
Some students will seem to have an easier time than others. But don’t let them fool you. Everyone is feeling some anxiety, some trepidation, and some sense of adventure. This is a time when you will become more independent and confident. This is a time when you move from being a child to being an adult. It is inevitable that you will experience ups and downs.
There are some students who may face even greater challenges than others while going through transition to college. For these students, it’s important to know that you are not alone. A number of students come to Drew with a history of mental health concerns and/or are currently on psychotropic medication. Today, because of the advancement of psychotropic medications, students who come to college after months and even years of psychiatric assistance and have had difficulties with depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, traumatic childhoods, and eating disorders, to name a few, attend and successfully complete college.
Because we know that this can be a time of turmoil and adjustment, it can potentially lead to emotional and psychological issues, Counseling and Psychological Services is here to provide you with support services intended to help you reach your personal, social, and academic goals. Through individual counseling and group programs, we hope to help you deal with your concerns, understand yourself, explore alternatives, make decisions, and cope with problems.
Counseling and Psychological Services is technically a “short term” facility (that means time-limited). However, we can provide limited support for all Drew students. In addition, we recommend the following:
If you are currently being treated by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional, continue with that relationship if it is reasonably possible. Make sure you are discussing the stresses related to leaving home and adjustment to college life.
- Arrange a time and dates when you will be able to meet with your mental health professional, especially during the first semester. Plan to have phone sessions or, at least periodic “check-ins” if meeting face-to-face is not possible. Have a treatment plan.
- Be sure to take your medication as prescribed. Be sure to have your psychiatrist monitor it and beware of the interaction effects of alcohol and other drugs (or food).
- Be sure to keep a regular schedule, receiving adequate sleep and proper nutrition. Exercise is also a great antidepressant and stress reliever.
- Stay in contact with your family and/or other support system. Try to develop a good support on campus and join activities.
- Get to know your RAs and OA siblings. If you are having difficulties let them know.
- If you are currently being helped by a mental health professional, know what you can expect to experience if you symptoms recur or intensify. Contact your mental health professional or Counseling and Psychological Services immediately.
I welcome you to Drew. It is my wish that you are all able to make a smooth and easy adjustment. However, I am more realistic than to believe that you all will. Try to be realistic also. Recognize when and if you are having difficulties, stressed or overwhelmed. Talk to someone about your feelings. Talk to us about them. You can reach us at x3398. We are located on the second floor of Sycamore Cottage.