Counseling can sound scary, especially for students who have never done it before. Thankfully, counseling can actually provide serious benefits for students enduring large-scale life changes and periods of stress, who may not know how to deal with it all.
Students in elementary school, high school and college alike experience big life changes every year; childhood and adolescence can be exciting, but also challenging, transitory times. In school, kids usually experience their first crush, their first heartbreak, their first best friend, their first friend-related heartbreak, their first changes in their bodies due to puberty, their first taste of independence by driving or walking home alone from the bus stop, their first subject they are passionate about, their first hobbies outside of school and so much more. It’s a lot to take in.
Some students may not feel comfortable speaking with their parents or siblings about these kinds of changes. A counselor can act as a neutral third-party that allows the student to express their feelings without shame, embarrassment or fear of being judged or punished.
Coping with stress
School is difficult and often stressful. As adults, we may have the tendency to discredit the stress that students go through – mostly unconsciously – because they don’t have to worry about responsibilities like working full-time and paying the bills.
Students nevertheless maintain a fairly rigorous schedule. They wake up early to attend school every day; if they’re in high school or younger, their entire day is planned for them, and if they’re in college then they’re figuring out how to structure their own days for the very first time.
Students take classes in several different subjects and have daily homework assignments from each of them. They are still trying to figure out how the world works while learning new things, forming and losing relationships, participating in sports or other extracurricular activities, being away from home, working their first jobs, experiencing physical changes and sometimes dealing with mental health issues.
Students have more on their plate than they’re given credit for, and going to counseling can help alleviate any burden they might be feeling. Other issues in their lives can exacerbate their feelings of stress. If a student’s home life is stressful or they don’t feel like they can talk to their friends or family about what they are feeling, they may end up reaching their breaking point and not coping in a healthy way.
Stress is normal, but counseling is effective at equipping students to handle it head-on.
Finding a healthy work-life balance
Many students these days aren’t just responsible for going to school; they also play an instrument, join a club, participate in the school play, serve on student government, hang out with friends, spend time with family, play one or more sports, do their homework, study for tests, drive to and from school and activities, go to tutoring and take advanced classes. In addition, high school and college students in particular will start to work their first jobs while going to school full-time.
The stress of it all can be a lot to handle, but going to counseling can provide students with the tools they need to balance out their days. They will learn coping skills as well as tips for creating and sticking to a schedule. You can help foster this idea at home, but it is important for the student to feel confident in their ability to create and adhere to boundaries.
Getting a diagnosis if necessary
Extreme stress can sometimes be a symptom of a mental disorder, like anxiety or panic disorder. If a student becomes unmotivated or shuts down in the face of stress and obligations, depression may be playing a role there as well. It is important to recognize when a student is experiencing normal levels of stress and when something more serious is going on. For example, a student may feel confused when they feel large-scale emotions and they aren’t sure how to handle it. They might react with frustration or anger.
Counseling can teach them how to recognize these types of feelings and change their responses appropriately. On the other hand, outbursts of anger can be a sign of a mental disorder which can also be treated and managed through counseling.
Mazzitti & Sullivan Counseling offers compassionate, evidence-based counseling for students struggling with stress and mental health disorders. Contact Mazzitti & Sullivan Counseling today at (800) 809-2925 if you or your student could benefit from counseling.