Helping students cope with college, watching for difficulties

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Many students have already left for college. It's an exciting time.

But it can also be extremely stressful for young adults.

Action News spoke with an expert about how parents can help.

With carts of boxes, filled with belongings.

Many students have now moved in to college.

For some, it may be their first time living away from home.

Angela Cantwell of Einstein Behavioral Health says many will have concerns.

"Are they going to fit in, are they going to like their roommate, the classes they picked, the schedule they set for themselves," says Cantwell.

And that's on top of academic anxiety, plus striking balance between having fun and studying.

"It's a time of adjustment and most people are going to get through it just fine," she says.

She says in two to three weeks, most students start to feel more comfortable.

But she says parents should look for signs their child may be struggling.

If they're not checking in as planned, if they seem down or withdrawn, have trouble concentrating, experience changes in sleeping or eating, and seeming to be overwhelmed.

Students who have dealt with anxiety or depression in the past may be at a greater risk.

Cantwell says if you suspect a problem, talk about it.

And everyone - students and parents - should have resources ready.

"Mental health counselors, support groups on campus, suicide and other hotlines, you want to have these numbers readily available and know them before something occurs," Cantwell says.

And it's better to get help early if needed, whether that's through a counselor or just talking with parents or a sibling.

Cantwell says video chatting, like with Facetime or Skype, is also a great way to help ease the transition and look for problems.
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