Tag Archives: college

Homesickness in College Students

How to Deal with Homesickness in College

One of the main causes of distress in students is homesickness. According to the UCLA Higher Education Institute, over 30% of college students experience low-level homesickness, and about 69% of first year college students experience severe homesickness.

Homesickness is more than the concept of missing home or missing family — it’s the feeling of longing and feeling out of place. Whether they’re nearby, out-of-state, or studying in a foreign country, college students are not only experiencing a new phase of life, but they’re also at a new school, in a new place.

Although it’s normal to feel homesick, wanting to enjoy a home-cooked meal with family or not wanting to deal with adult responsibilities and academic pressures may quickly make homesickness grow. Homesickness builds in waves and can turn into more serious mental health issues if not taken seriously.

Last year, Assist America worked on a severe case of homesickness, helping an 18-year-old student from Germany who was hospitalized after his homesickness transformed into serious depressive episodes.

In the weeks leading up to his hospitalization, the student had shown increased signs of homesickness, including mentioning that he wanted to go home, a decrease in the desire to participate in activities and social events, and suicidal thoughts.

After a while, his roommates told the university staff about his behavior, and he was later admitted to the hospital. Once he was stable, Assist America arranged for transportation supervised by a medical escort to take him back to Germany.

Tips for Overcoming Homesickness

Some preventive measures can be taken by both parents and students to help overcome homesickness.

For Parents

  • You can help your child prepare for college life by visiting the campus ahead of time so they can familiarize themselves with its surroundings.

  • In the years before college, consider sending your child to summer camps, activities, or to visit family away from home , so they can gradually learn to deal with separation anxiety.

  • Avoid expressing your own anxiety about your child leaving for college in front of them. Instead, talk optimistically and positively about their new experiences to come.

  • Encourage your child to find trusted friends and adults on campus. These relationships will help them build connections in their new community and ease the transition.

  • Consider sending little surprise care packages to your child. Include their favorite cookies or candies, a new book, gift cards to their favorite stores, a letter, and a funny family photo.

  • Make the most of technology. Staying in touch on the phone or through video chat is easier than ever and can help the whole family feel connected.

For Students

  • Stay engaged in campus activities. Many colleges organize welcome week events to help students get used to college culture.

  • Establish and stick to a daily routine, even if it’s difficult to stay on track with exams and events around every corner. Routines are good for dealing with stress and anxiety and will help you adjust to your new community and class schedule.

  • Feeling homesick is normal, as long as you can handle the situation. To help battle feelings of loneliness, keep a family picture on your study table, video-chat often, or go old-school and write letters to family and friends back home.

  • Find ways to reward yourself as you make gains in your new routine. For instance, after submitting an important assignment or taking a big exam, take some time to do something fun or treat yourself with something you like.

  • If campus is only a drive away, you and your parents and friends can plan a few weekends throughout the school year to visit each other on campus, at home, or to meet at a halfway-point.

  • When packing for college, take some of your favorite decorations from your room to make your new room feel more like home.

  • Know what services are available to you to help you cope with homesickness. Too often students don’t realize all the things their college has ready to help them with exactly these issues. Never shy away from seeking advice from a trusted adult on campus about these services. Or you can look into these services privately on your school’s website.

While Studying Abroad

  • Students who study abroad are even more likely to feel homesick since they have to adjust to a whole new culture and lifestyle, learn to speak a new language, and meet all new people from many backgrounds.

  • A challenge while studying abroad is knowing who you can ask questions and how and where to get help. Before leaving, create a reference list with the names, contact details, and roles of people that will be helpful during your stay. Once you arrive, be sure to add anyone important you meet to your list. 

  • Schools often have an international student department who will organize welcome events and get-togethers. Be sure to attend those activities, especially at the beginning of your time abroad.

  • Many international programs also have Facebook groups where former and new students can exchange tips and experiences. Joining these groups to make connections and prepare before leaving home.

  • Make friends with people from the same country as you. When you’re missing home, spend time together. Your shared experience of studying abroad can make you feel a little closer to home.

How Assist America Can Help

Assist America provides useful services that can reassure parents and students studying out-of-state or abroad.

For example, Assist America can help students find where and how they can refill certain prescriptions before they even leave home, so they can plan their departure with peace of mind.

Students who know they will need to see a doctor while away from home can call us or Assist America for referrals. Assist America also provides emergency trauma counseling for students on the phone, with referrals for follow-up sessions with specialists.

Finally, students going to a foreign country can use the Pre-Trip Information tool on Assist America’s website and the mobile app to familiarize themselves with their destination.

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Mental Health Month

Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Month, and we’re talking about some important mental health issues facing Americans all week.

Being exposed to violence or trauma as a kid can have long-term effects, from derailing development to increased mental and physical issues. Long or repeated stress can be toxic for kids, especially if they’re lacking adult support in their lives.

Childhood Trauma

 

Adverse childhood experiences can include emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, community violence, household addiction, parents divorcing, poverty, and bullying. Know the signs to help the children in your life.

Signs of Childhood Problems

 

Taking care of your mental health in college is especially important. 1 in 5 young adults experience a mental health condition, and 75% of those begin by 24 with many emerging in the college years.

Mental health issues affect students’ success at college. College can be difficult and isolating, and 45% have felt that things were hopeless at some point. Over 45% of those who stop attending could benefit from mental health support.

Support in College During Isolation

 

Only 1 in 3 of the people who need mental health help actually seek it out, even though treatments for the most common conditions are effective 80% of the time. It’s also the leading cause of disability in the U.S.

Mental Health and Work

 

In the wake of the opioid crisis, it’s important to understand how it affects mental health. Over time, addiction changes brain function, inhibiting a person’s ability to control substance use.

Brain Function and Opioids

 

Long-term use of opioids can cause a chronic brain disorder, which causes problems with the brain reward system, motivation, memory, and related circuitry. Encourage loved ones to see a doctor to explore treatment center options.

Recovering from Addiction

Well-Child Visits for Your Preteen

Well-Child Visits for Your Teenager – Ages 15 to 17

Yearly well-child visits for your teenager help them be their healthiest. These visits with your doctor are for a full checkup to make sure they’re healthy and developing normally. This is different from other visits for sickness or injury.

What Happens at Well-Child Visits for Your Teenager

Your teen needs to have yearly well-child visits with their doctor to focus on their development, health, and wellness. At the appointment, some of the basics your doctor will cover are:

  • Checking that your teen is developing at a healthy rate and tracking their history
  • Getting a physical exam
  • Staying up to date with their preventive care
  • Getting education and counseling
  • If needed, setting health goals

Your Teenager’s Development

Your teen’s doctor can help you keep track of their key developmental milestones, which can include physical, mental, and social skills.

At each visit, your doctor will ask you and your teen questions to help make sure your teen is reaching milestones on schedule. This can help them recognize signs of problems early on and put your mind at ease.

Each teenager grows differently. Some kids take longer to hit puberty, to be romantically interested in peers, or to worry about their future. Most of these aren’t a sign that something’s wrong. Your doctor can help you understand what differences could be because of something serious.

Developmental milestones for most teens ages 15 to 17 include:

  • Spending more time outside the family, like with friends, peers, and dates
  • Worrying about their future, like going to college
  • More interest in romantic and sexual relationships
  • Wanting to try new things, which could include tobacco, drugs, or alcohol

See more milestones for your teens.

Health Information & History

At well-child visits for your teenager, your doctor will ask you and your teen to answer some questions about your teen’s health and maybe even your family history.

  • Health questions, like:

    • Do you often get any type of pain or headaches?

  • Behavior and emotion questions, like:

    • Do you have trouble following directions?
    • Do you often feel sad or bored?
    • Is there someone you can talk to about your problems?

  • Eating habit questions, like:

    • What do you eat on a normal day?

  • School and activity questions, like:

    • Do you like going to school?
    • What do you like to do on the weekends and after school?
    • Do you participate in any physical activities?

  • Safety questions, like:

    • Do you always wear a seatbelt in the car?
    • Are you experiencing any kind of violence?
    • Do you or your friends use any tobacco, alcohol, or drugs?

  • And family and friends questions, like:

    • Have there been any changes in your family recently?
    • Do you have close friends?

  • Sexuality questions, like:

    • Do you have any questions about your body?
    • Are you dating?
    • Do you know how to prevent STDs and unwanted pregnancy?

  • Future questions, like:

    • Have you started to think about what you want to do after high school?

Physical Exam

At well-child visits for your teenager, you can expect their doctor to:

  • Measure their height, weight, BMI, and blood pressure
  • Check their body and limbs
  • Take their temperature
  • Check their vision and hearing
  • Decide if they need any lab tests, like a blood test
  • Give them any shots or screenings they need

Education, Counseling & Health Goals

Your teen’s doctor can help you with important information about:

  • Caring for your teen
  • Managing any conditions or diseases they might have
  • Puberty
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Tobacco, alcohol, or drugs
  • Preventing violence in relationships or dealing with bullying
  • Preventing STDs and pregnancy

Their doctor might have valuable handouts, websites, and advice to help or might want to refer you to a specialist who can help with specific issues further.

Their doctor can also help you set health goals to maintain or improve your teen’s health, like maintaining a healthy weight, dealing with depression, and more.

Prepare for Well-Child Visits for Your Teenager

Preparing yourself with questions to ask and answers to your doctor’s questions can help you make the most of well-child visits for your teenager.

Know Your Family and Teen’s History

Make sure you bring any medical records you have that the doctor might not, especially to a first appointment with a new doctor, like a record of shots and screening results.

You should also make a list of any important changes in your teen’s life, like a divorce in the family, the death of a loved one, a big move, a new school, or the serious breakup of a relationship or a friendship.

Your family’s history of health and wellness is also an important part of your teenager’s health record. Histories of illness and disease can help doctors look out for issues that run in families and more.

This family health history tool can help you track your family’s health so that you’re always organized to talk to your teen’s doctor. Not sure about your family history? Filling this out is the perfect time to talk to family members for firsthand details.

Talk to Your Doctor and Help Your Teen Get More Involved

Prepare for well-child visits for your teenager by knowing any questions or issues you want to talk about ahead of time. Some things you might want to ask about:

  • Health conditions, like asthma, allergies, or acne
  • Talking to them about:
    • Sex
    • Tobacco, alcohol, and drugs
    • Bullying
  • Making sure your teens eat right and get enough exercise
  • Changes in their behavior or mood or loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Sexual development
  • Helping them stay at a healthy weight
  • Internet safety
  • Helping them drive safely
  • Preventive care they need
  • What to do if they get sick or hurt

After starting puberty, your teen’s doctor will usually ask you to leave the room during the physical exam. This will help them build trust with their doctor and teach them to take control of their health care. Plus, it gives them some privacy at what can be an embarrassing time of physical changes.

At this age, your teens can also start to help managing their care. They can call to schedule appointments, help fill out medical forms, and prepare their own questions to ask the doctor.

Know What’s Covered

Learn more about what immunizations are covered for your teenagers. And log in to Your Health Alliance or search by your or your teen’s member number to see what preventive care your family’s plan covers.

You can use our general preventive care guidelines and prescription drugs to get an idea of what our plans cover.

If you’re not sure what’s covered and what you’ll need a preauthorization for, you can check your coverage and preauthorization lists at Your Health Alliance.

Now that you’re ready for your teen’s physicals, log in to Your Health Alliance if you need to set a Primary Care Provider (PCP) for your teenagers or start searching for doctors in our network.

National Campus Safety Awareness Month

National Campus Safety Awareness Month

September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month, and there are tips you can share with your new college freshman.

First up, make sure your kids understand digital safety and make smart decisions online.

Staying Safe on Technology

 

One of the most important campus safety laws in the U.S. is the Jeanne Clery Act. Learn more.

Important Campus Safety Legistlation

 

There are all kinds of handy phone apps to help students stay safe in emergencies or when going out.

Phone Apps to Keep Students Safe

 

Just like you want to know where to go in an emergency, make sure you and your freshman know the school’s sexual assault policies.

Make sure your kids know what a healthy relationship should look like in college and get helpful resources.

A Healthy Relationship

 

Friends can help keep you safe but can also drive your behavior. Learn more about the power of the peer group.

Your Peer Group and Campus Safety

 

Know your rights, file a complaint, or find a crisis service with the help of the U.S. government.

Know Your Rights & Protections

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Give Back Christmas Wishes

Give Back for the Holidays

This week, we’re helping you find ways to give back this holiday season.

Donate a homemade scarf to the Orphan Foundation of America’s Red Scarf Project and give foster teens in college a way to stay warm.

Donate a Red Scarf

 

Toys for Tots collects new, unwrapped, or your homemade toys to give to kids in need. Find a drop-off center.

Donate new, gently used, or homemade coats to those who need them with the Warm Coats & Warm Hearts Coat Drive.

Giving Warmth

 

Send a thoughtful holiday card to American service members, veterans, and their families with the American Red Cross’s Holiday Mail for Heroes program.

Reaching Out for the Holidays

 

Fill a shoe box with handmade or bought gifts to send a personalized present to a child in need through Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child program.

Give a Personalized Gift

 

Donate your old cell phone to Cell Phones for Soldiers and give the gift of communication to our troops and their families.

Give Your Old Phone

 

Give the gift of a good holiday meal to a family that might otherwise go without through a food bank near you.

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