Students with Existing Diagnoses
Managing Chronic Illness or Mental Health Diagnoses
Make a Plan
You have probably done a good job in managing your health and wellness up to this point. As you become more and more independent and perhaps move away from home, you will need to have a plan for making sure your daily needs are met as well as handling an emergency should you have one. If your condition requires frequent medical appointments or prescriptions, you will need to learn how to manage those in a new location. Will you need to find a local specialist? Will you be able to get services on campus? Is the insurance you have adequate? Learn how to obtain and manage your medications before you leave for school and make a plan for where you will keep them, how you will use them and what to do in an emergency.
As you head off to school, you will be facing and managing new things on a daily basis. Plan ahead to manage your chronic illness or mental health diagnosis to help reduce stress associated with managing your illness.
Learn What Services and Facilities Are Available
Before you arrive, you’ll want to know how and where to access health and wellness services on and off campus. Learn the layout of the campus. Locate the Disability Office, the Health Center and any other office or department that may provide support and help. Learn about the physical layout of the campus, should you need accessibility.
Your school’s disability office can offer services and guidance while you are on campus. Read more about the disability office and accommodations here.
Inform Those Around You
You may need to make others on campus aware of your diagnosis. This can help should you have an emergency or need to miss class.
If you need accommodations, it is your responsibility to let your professor know. Read more about accommodations here. You may also want to inform your roommate and RA about your illness in case you have an emergency. You will want to show them how they can best help you. Share your emergency contact information with your roommate or others.
If you have a mental health condition, you may find this article on disclosing your condition from National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) helpful.
Practice Self Care
Transitioning to college can be stressful, and stress can affect your health and well-being. Maintaining healthy habits and taking care of your mental health can help you manage stress and help you achieve your academic goals.
There may be a support group on campus or in the community with others that are dealing with the same issue, whether it is a mental health condition, physical condition, or chronic medical condition. Check with your health or wellness center or the health promotion office on campus. You may also find support from your family, friends, new friends, roommates, and your RA.
There may also be local or national groups that support and advocate for people with a particular issue. Some groups, like the College Diabetes Network and Active Minds, focus specifically on the needs of college students.
Prepare Your Environment
There are things you may need that differ from the general campus population, but preparing and planning for what you need will help prevent disruptions to your life on campus. If you have dietary considerations, the campus dining services department can tell you where to go for the foods you need or provide those foods. If you take any medications, make sure you know where to get refills and new prescriptions, whether that’s on campus, in the local community, or stocking up on visits home. If you have asthma or allergies, there are some simple steps you can take to help limit your symptoms.