Written By Marc Lehman

‘Parent and College Students we need a change.’ This is the headline I read every week or so, as another article gets printed by major publications talking about the immense problem on college campuses with mental health across the country.

I have been a family therapist for over 20 years working with students in HS and College.  I am also a father of two kids 17 and 19 years old. After being around this population of kids professionally and personally I have concluded one very important thing—we need to change the way we offer help to them.

The population of young adults will soon be running our communities.  They will be teachers, police officers, store owners, doctors, nurses and many other professionals.  Many of them will have long histories of mental health issues that are out of control if we don’t make a change soon.

The bottom line is we have a large population on most college campuses of students struggling with anxiety, depression and suicidality.

The stats are shocking:

65% of students with overwhelming anxiety

38% of students with depression

Only 7% of parents report that their student is having mental health problems

Suicide is now the 2nd leading cause of death in college students

A shocking 2/3 of all college students needing help do not get it.

Why are there so many students needing help?

College life can be tremendously stressful in that many students don’t have healthy ways to burn off stress.  They are stressed due to school work and interpersonal conflicts and don’t know how to manage things.

In addition, there is a sparse amount of options for students due to the increased demand and minimal staff that most campuses have.  Campus staff are often overwhelmed and students feel isolated.

The current average ratio nationally of mental health provider to student is 1 to 1700.  For some campuses it is as bad a 1 provider to 2500 students.

This easily translates to many students simply will go without help.  That means many students will remain extremely sad or depressed, overwhelmingly anxious and some may attempt to harm themselves.  Let me remind you all these are our future leaders, our neighbors, and our own kids.

Some estimate as few as only 11% of students who are deemed too need help are actually getting help while at college.  This trend is disturbing.  We need to consider a change.  Changing how to reach students.  This is the basis of why I developed U ARE HEARD.  We are an online coaching solution that helps college students manage their mental health.  I have an amazing staff of coaches with varied backgrounds ready to assist.

The online option has been very appealing to students.  It allows us to end the stigma and negative feeling some students have of going to an office to see someone.  Our students can see us from the privacy of their room, study room in their dorm or even a private room in the library.  We bring the support to them through video sessions.  Video calling is actually done more by college students than phone calling.  Most students are very comfortable having conversations in this format.

The online format has also allowed me to hire coaches throughout the country.  This has increased my ability to have an all-star staff helping students.  I have individuals contacted me daily to work for U ARE HEARD.

If we as parents or students don’t look to get help differently than the way we always have, then the stats listed above will continue and eventually get worse. Why do we as adults accept the same way of doing things if it is not working.

U ARE HEARD is engaging and an easy to use solution.  Many students look forward to meeting and getting the help. As an in office provider of therapy for teens, this is not always the case with many young adults.

We at U ARE HEARD, have helped many as we bring support directly to the student.  We assist through online sessions.  We work within your students schedule and allow for them to get help when they otherwise may not.  Helping students is our passion.  We want students to know there is support available and it doesn’t have to be hard to set up.

We need to change the way we help.

We need to allow students to have their difficulties and BE HEARD.

We need to offer help that works with them and fits into their lifestyle.

We need to offer help that is engaging and appealing so they accept it and want to use it.

Written By Marc Lehman, Family Therapist and College Coach at
U ARE HEARD LLC

Written By Marc Lehman

As 2019 comes to an end and we head into the new year I am reminded of the power of being grateful.  Being grateful means to be aware and thankful of what you have.  It means being in the moment and recognizing that you have certain things in your world that others may not.  On a daily basis, I observe people simply ignoring this.  It is easy to look ahead and want things you don’t have.

There are not a lot of guarantees in life.  Here are a few things we can predict about our lives.

We will have good days and some bad days.

We will have healthy times and some unhealthy times.

We will be around births and deaths of people we know.

We will have a range of enjoyable and not so enjoyable feelings.

We will have fantastic experiences and some awful ones as well.

Why is being grateful important?

Life is cyclical.  We go through tough times and for many they are followed by good times.  There may be years in your life when holidays are amazing and very enjoyable. There may be times where holidays are difficult and filled with memories that are hard to think about.  Gratitude is being thankful in the moment for what you have.  It also includes not seeking more.

I find that being in the moment can be challenging.  Recognizing where we are currently and truly appreciating what we have is grounding.  It allows us to feel satisfied and emotionally stable.

Being grateful is very good for a person’s self-worth.  The simple act of awareness of what we have and the appreciation for it is healthy.  It allows us to feel good about accomplishments, family, friends, our health and other positive things we have in our world.

Can you name 5 things you are grateful for?  Take a moment and think about this.  These things may change over time, but in the moment right now what are your grateful for?

We all have the ability to be grateful, but many of our lives seem to be moving so fast that stopping to be aware of what you appreciate feels challenging.  I would suggest when you have a quiet moment during your day taking the time the consider what you have in your life.  What do you have that you feel happy about?  The people, places, and things you feel most grateful for.  Do not overlook your health.  When we are feeling good it is extremely important to take time to acknowledge we are well and to consider what we need to continue to do to maintain this.

Most individuals I meet want to feel good about themselves. The simple act of recognizing what you should be grateful for is an easy first step. Being mindful of this on a daily basis allows a person to not only feel better emotionally, but also to savor the feeling of happiness in the moment.

As human beings we all have the ability to stop and think about what we have and too be grateful.  Recognizing what we have and appreciating it allows us the opportunity to get through the tough times in our lives.  It is my hope that we all work harder at harnessing the power of being grateful in the new year.  This will allow for less conflict among people and many more happy days.

Written By Marc Lehman, Family Therapist and College Coach at U ARE HEARD LLC

Written By Marc Lehman

Four tips all college freshmen should know to improve their experience and reduce stress.

Welcome to our special section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.

As a family therapist of 20+ years working with teens and young adults I have noticed a concerning trend. Many young adults in high school and college are extremely stressed out and anxious. Their healthy coping skills are limited and the amount of stress and strain they take in is immense. In order to help your student, it is very important to look at why this is occurring and what can be done to help.

Statistically, the mental health of college students is becoming a huge problem in our country. As an example, suicide is now the second-leading cause of death in college students. We need to start paying attention to this. Why are so many students struggling?  Why are the anxiety and depressive rates continually increasing annually for college students?

Google lists the national graduation rate of college students in 4 years as 42.9% and in 6 years as 61%.

Do those numbers surprise you?

According to College Atlas, 70% of Americans will study at a four-year college, but less than two-thirds will graduate with a degree, and 30% of first-year students drop out after their first year of school. A sizable amount of the students who don’t complete college reference emotional distress or mental health issues as the reason.

Assuming these statistics are all correct, why aren’t we coming up with better ways to take care of our students that are in college?

These are the future leaders in business, healthcare, law, education and many other professions. They will ideally one day be running our country. We are simply teaching students information in classes and not giving them ways to survive the stress of everyday life.  The help that is available for many students often isn’t engaging to them.  They are so busy during the day that taking time for an appointment is very challenging. Most students that need assistance want help to be private and confidential. They want it to be delivered in a way that they are comfortable with. It is these reasons and many more that only 11% of students actual get help when they need it.

Many students get to college as Freshmen completely unprepared.  Most of them think they are prepared and they become overwhelmed quickly. Communal living can be challenging. This type of living is completely new. As a result, the rookie college student needs to learn how to get along with someone they are around a lot.

Tip 1: Learning how to communicate their needs and insist on a baseline level of mutual respect from and to their roommate

This can be practiced at home before students get to school in order to begin their first semester on a positive note. This may feel artificial to role play this, but it does help Freshmen to know what to say and step up and actually say it proactively. Don’t forget this typically small room, called a dorm room, is their new home.  There is very little privacy and in order to get along it will require some level of communication and flexibility.

Academics will often start off slow. Teachers will often spend the first week of a semester reviewing a syllabus and what work will be coming their way.

Tip 2: Get organized

I suggest spending one hour per class that first week getting organized (as there is usually not a lot of work — this will replace the typical work they would do that week). Either use a handwritten calendar that all academic things are written on and then placed somewhere in the room they have to glance at it several times daily.  Or a computerized calendar that syncs to their phone (otherwise known as the thing they have on them all the time). Everything on the syllabus should be on this calendar. They then follow this one convenient tool to stay organized and reduce stress around procrastination of getting work done. Getting into the habit of looking at this multiple times a day to prepare for that evening or the rest of their week will actually reduce anxiety. As a rule, I suggest two to four hours daily of out of class work. This can be reading, writing papers, or studying. This should be split up and not done all at once.

The social side of college is also very important. Many students arrive at college with social experiences. Most are different than what they will encounter while at college. The basic change of living together with many other students on their hallway is vastly different for public high school graduates. Socializing and spending time with other students can be a great way to burn stress and manage anxiety.

Tip 3: Encourage your student to join a formal club or intramural on campus

Have them look up on their school’s website what clubs or intramurals their school has, and push them to go to an initial meeting. It may be a formal club or intramural. Either way it will require some energy to make a first meeting to see if they may enjoy it. This is a fantastic was to meet students outside of their dorm. Having an outlet to socialize clearly reduces stress for students, as they have people to spend time with, get advice from, and go to if they are experiencing difficulties.

Tip 4: Be open and friendly to others in your dorm 

Students don’t recognize initially that their dorm neighbors are a perfect group to make friends with. They always come back to the same place each evening and often students will go to dinner together as a group. For students to be included in this type of socializing they need to leave their door open and be friendly upon seeing new people in the hallways.

Communicating well with roommates, beginning the semester organized, spending two to four hours on out of class work, socializing in the dorm and joining a club or intramural is the formula for a happy college freshmen. My happiest students have done each of these things. This leads to a balanced world and a managed amount of anxiety.

Getting help when needed is also super important. U ARE HEARD is an engaging and easy to use solution. U ARE HEARD is online coaching for college students.  We see students for video sessions as they are very comfortable with this type of communication.  Many students look forward to meeting and getting this type of help.

U ARE HEARD, has helped many as we bring support directly to the student.  We assist through online sessions.  We work within your students schedule and allow for them to get help when they otherwise may not. Helping students is our passion. We want students to know there is support available and it doesn’t have to be hard to set up.

We are dedicated to impacting the statistics I referenced in the beginning of this article.  There needs to be a change in the way we offer help to students. U ARE HEARD is the modern way of students getting the help they need.

Written By Marc Lehman, Family Therapist and College Coach at U ARE HEARD LLC