Change is hard. It’s a universal experience that everyone faces throughout their lives; that is, the pain of letting go of who you were and accepting who you have become. From a developmental perspective, the difficulties associated with change most often show up when a person has a sudden disruption in their environment. Moving to a new state, parents getting divorced, or experiencing the death of a loved one are all moments when people feel the pain that their past is over and accept that their life is now different.
However, many students don’t consider coming to college as something that could fall into this category, despite many feeling overwhelmed, confused, and/or sad during the transition. Coming to a university is certainly exciting and a time for celebration, but it also means adjusting to a new life, new people, and a new environment, often without the immediate support of old friends and family. It’s no wonder that college is a time when anxiety, depression, and a host of other mental health concerns often arise for the first time considering that such an incredible amount of growth happens over the span of just a few short years. While the hardships and emotional challenges of college can be numerous, the good news is that they don’t have to last forever.
Unfortunately, something our therapists hear far too often from students who come to our center is, “I’ve been struggling with this problem for a long time, and now it seems to have gotten really bad.” Some of these concerns could have been easily addressed early on and saved the student a world of suffering in the process. Adjusting to college, learning to manage relationships, balancing a stressful schedule, accepting and experiencing emotions, dealing with conflict, and understanding self can be daunting tasks (just to name a few), but can be addressed effectively with the right intervention; and that’s where engaging in therapy can be helpful.
At the Elon Counseling Center, services are free for current students and our licensed therapists are fully equipped to work with severe mental health crises as well as students who are feeling a general sense of unease with the state of their lives. I always tell students who are debating whether to see a counselor that the only thing they could potentially lose is an hour out of their life. Therefore, the question becomes “why not see a therapist and see if it’s helpful?”
So, if there is one piece of advice I would give Elon Students (or anyone for that matter), it would be to listen to what you need and give yourself the help you deserve. Elon Counseling Services provides individual and group therapy to address a wide array of concerns and offers a number of workshops for students who want to learn more about an issue, but aren’t interested in beginning traditional therapy (check out www.elon.edu/counseling for a full list of everything we offer at our center). We can help students connect with psychiatrists, mental health providers, and other specialized providers in the community if that is in their best interest.
August is an exciting time as we welcome new and returning students to campus. At Elon Counseling Services, we’re thrilled to be an integral part of helping students succeed, both inside and outside of the classroom. We hope that if you feel we can assist you in becoming your best self, you’ll come see us. Have a great year!