Three Important Guidelines for Transitioning to College with a Diagnosed Condition


Advances in treatments for depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental illnesses mean that more students with diagnosed mental conditions are able to attend college today than ever before. At the same time, if you are a parent of one of those students, you know the situation requires special planning, ongoing support and treatment.

Of course each situation is individual, but when planning for a child’s transition to college who is or has been treated for an emotional disorder, three important guidelines apply:

Be Mindful. Know your child and work with him to choose a college that’s aligned with his interests, needs and special requirements. As he plans his schedule and makes adjustments, encourage him to be realistic about his academic and social expectations and choices.

Find Support. Once in college, it’s not unusual for some children to want to “give it a go” on their own. The prudent course of action is to seek support, relying upon available campus and local resources to put the plans and accommodations in place your child may need now or in the future. Remember, mental health disorders are real illnesses, just like diabetes or heart disease. Working within the available health care system to mitigate their severity and impact is essential. Talk to your child’s current health care provider and the school about your own family’s situation. Then find the support you need to help keep your child on track.

Have a Plan… and Plan for Setbacks. Take measures to maximize your child’s ability to thrive while at college, putting specific plans in place for treatment, transfer of care to a new provider, and what to do in the event of emergency. Plan for setbacks. All people face times when their mental health is challenged. Particularly for those with a diagnosed mental condition, adapting to and accepting setbacks is a vital part of successful management of their disease.

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