cry-62326_1280Mental health is a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being. It’s how we think, feel, look, act, etc. Several factors, internally and externally, can affect our feelings and severely impact our well-being. One major factor that can trigger one or some types of mental illnesses including anxiety, mood disorder, dementia, and or eating disorders is stress.

In particular, stress is very common among college freshman. It is not atypical for them to experience a little anxiety with the transition to college, however, the stress levels can become more extreme. The 2012 Healthy Minds Study, an annual national online survey of college students conducted by the University of Michigan, found that 20% of students screened positive for depression or anxiety in one university. On top of that, other studies are showing the stress levels of college students is on a constant rise nationwide. These stats not only show problems that college students are facing, but also shows a  need to educate parents about mental health and how to help their students cope with situations they may face.

From the standpoint of young children, the best way to overcome and prevent your children from being severely affected by stress or developing a mental illness throughout their lives is practicing and applying Developmental Asset strategies every day. Statistically proven, the more Developmental Assets young people experience, the more likely they will succeed in life. If you heavily influence your child with positive peer influence, self-esteem, safety, a sense of purpose, and building relationships, your child will have stronger relationships with the adults around them and with friends who help them make good choices, they’re more likely to overcome the stresses they face. To learn more about the 40 developmental assets that the Search Institute has identified as essential building blocks of healthy development, check out this website: http://www.search-institute.org/content/40-developmental-assets-adolescents-ages-12-18.

The best thing a parent can do for their college student is be supportive. Remind your kids you are available to talk when they need someone to listen, and provide them positive feedback. Also, remind them that taking breaks are essential, that exercise benefits the mind and body, and that smiling and laughing relieves tension and improves the situation. Don’t neglect to educate them about bad practices, such as drinking and drugs, and the dangerous effects they can have on their lives. All of these reminders and prep work will help them cope stress, and may help prevent them from developing a mental illness.