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How can international students manage new environments?

Aug 15, 2019 | by timelymd

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Brand new environments can impact international students both academically and socially. An article by U.S. News & World Report discusses the importance for international students to know what support is available as they adjust to both new schools and new countries.

Some universities offer this information to their prospective students before they arrive on campus. For instance, certain colleges are required to complete a mandatory online orientation that explains issues common to international students, such as cross-cultural adjustments and the stress that follows. It is important for students to realize that they have resources to help them when they feel out of place, or just need someone to talk to.

Take a look at what experts suggest as different options for international students to reach out and adjust to new surroundings.

1. Join a social club or community group.

Joining a club or an organization on campus is a great way to meet new friends, acclimate to a new community and minimize the changes of isolation. Being a part of an organization allows students to connect to others who share the same major, hobbies or culture.

2. Consider meditation or prayer.

Many universities offer places on campus for students to relax and pray or meditate. For instance, the University of Kentucky offers a Relaxation Room that is available for all students to come and go as they please. Director of the Counseling Center, Mary Bolin, says that the room was created several years ago “to ease access for students who may be hesitant to receive help.” Whether that was due to social stigma or even being unfamiliar with the health support services that are available on campus.

3. Explore counseling services.

Many colleges worldwide have counseling resources for their students free of charge. According to Cornell University, about 20 percent of their students utilized the school’s counseling services. International students can benefit from even requesting counselors from their own ethnic backgrounds.

Emotional and physical well-being are some of the most important things in life, and they should be considered a priority, especially during the transition into a new chapter of life. It’s imperative for students to take things one day at a time, be conscious of the resources that are available and realize that it’s okay to ask for help!

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5 Stress Management Tips for College Students

May 14, 2019 | by timelymd

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Stress happens. Especially when you’ve just moved to a new city, embarked on a journey with new friends and are committed to hours of studying and homework. Being a college student isn’t easy, but it’s definitely manageable! Whether you’re a freshman taking your first steps on campus or a senior preparing for finals and a new life chapter, stressful times will indefinitely surface. Luckily, managing stress can (and should) become part of your daily routine. Here are our top 5 tips to help you along the way.

1. Sleep
We’ve all heard that sleep can go a long way when it comes to staying healthy. But do you really know what a good night of rest is doing to your brain? The American Psychological Association notes that good sleep allows our brains to recharge, our muscles to repair, promotes memory consolidation, along with many other benefits. In fact, 21 percent of adults feel more stressed from not getting enough sleep. There are so many reasons why at least 8 hours of sleep every night is great for your body; just don’t forget about the benefits for your brain too!

Still having trouble getting some shut eye? Try relaxing techniques like taking a warm bath, turning down the lights or relinquishing screen time at least one hour before bed.

2. Nutrition
While it comes as no surprise that we tend to overeat or undereat when we’re stressed, what exactly is happening in our bodies that link stress and bad nutrition? According to Harvard Medical School, stress can both shut down the appetite by releasing a corticotropin-releasing hormone or increase the appetite by releasing cortisol. Either way, your brain stressed out is sending the wrong signals when it comes to healthy nutrition.

Keeping up with your healthy eating habits start by managing your stress. Talk to friends, try meditation or develop an exercise routine to stay on top of stress levels.

3. Be active
If you’re too stressed to find an exercise routine, you may not realize that exercise itself can help you lower stress! The Mayo Clinic suggests that regular exercise not only increases overall health, but also has some stress-reducing benefits. Your brain produces feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins. When you are physically active, those endorphins get an extra boost and can even give you that “runner’s” high feeling after a great workout.

If you’re struggling to get in a workout, try inviting a friend, changing up your routine or exercising in increments, which give brief bursts of energy. Don’t forget that all of this work will help the endorphin level skyrocket, keeping your stress at bay.

4. Find connections
Although it might sound obvious to seek out a connection with friends, coworkers or family when the stress levels are high, many people choose to hole up and try to tackle their stress alone. The Mayo Clinic states “studies have demonstrated that social isolation and loneliness are associated with a greater risk of poor mental health and poor cardiovascular health, as well as other health problems.” Many college campuses do a great job creating social groups for students. Try your student life center to see where you might fit in best.

So next time you’re feeling the anxiety creep its way in, call someone, grab a friend for coffee, or better yet, a walk around the park!

5. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help
Stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness all happen. The great news that someone is ready to talk to you about it. Reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Whether it’s a counselor, doctor, friend, parent, etc., asking for help is the first step to feeling better, and even feeling your best!

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Recognizing a Need for Help

Apr 16, 2019 | by timelymd

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Recognizing when a peer is struggling with anxiety or depression is sometimes difficult. Fellow students, classmates, dorm residents, the person who sits next to you in church or your service/social club, plays athletics with you or sits by themselves in your dining area may struggle with worry, depression, loneliness and even thoughts of death or suicide.

Some common signs that might suggest a peer’s need for help include when they:

  • Make comments about wanting to die, kill themselves or someone else, or death in general
  • Do not see solutions to their problems/feel trapped
  • Isolate/withdraw from friends, family or groups
  • Express hopelessness
  • Say that there is no purpose or reason to live
  • Start collecting pills, weapons or ropes
  • Increase consumption of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Express intense physical or emotional pain
  • Experience mood changes such as bouts of crying, agitation, anger
  • Take risks that put them in harm’s way, such as driving recklessly or are out late in unsafe places
  • Start saying goodbye to people at inappropriate times
  • Have major sleep issues (beyond the college norm)
  • Give away personal items of importance to them or get affairs in order

Getting Help – Connect, Ask, Stay
There are ways that you can help your friends, family or peers in need. First, connect with the person. Ask how they are doing. Specifically, ask if the person is having any thoughts of hurting or killing themselves or anyone else. All of the above signs are common in people with suicidal ideation. Asking shows concern; asking does not appear to increase suicidal thoughts. Do not promise to keep suicidal thoughts a secret. Let them know you want to assist them in getting help. Stay with them until you get them to help if you are with someone who is talking about killing themselves.

For campus resources, find the numbers below for your university:

  • Campus Police 24 hr #
  • 911
  • TimelyMD (24 hours): Login at timely.care or call 833-484-6359
  • Campus Counseling Center
  • Psychology Clinic
  • Marriage & Family Institute
  • Title IX Office for Sexual Violence
  • Dorm Supervisor/Housing Director

If a person is in moderate distress and not having thoughts of killing themselves or someone else, support them while they get help. For example, have them call the campus counseling center or login to TimelyMD (24 hours) or another campus resource for an appointment.

Besides professional support, if the person has another friend, family member, church member/pastor, dorm supervisor, faculty or staff that seems supportive to them, suggest they contact that person.

When a person is in distress, they need a sense of connection, support and belonging. See the powerful video below, “You Belong,” by Mental Health of America Texas.

Follow up
Following up may include walking with your friend to their appointment at the counseling center, making a time to meet for a coffee/snack or meal, meeting after class, inviting them to a social or church gathering or calling them to see how life is going. If you ask how they are doing, it’s important to be ready to listen. When someone is down, ask about what is going well. Recognizing even small positive happenings is helpful!

References
Mental Health of America Texas. You Belong. Video developed under Contract No. 2012-039469-001 for Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to Mental Health America of Texas (MAAT). https://youtu.be/UeJL9F-4rNA

Texas Suicide Prevention Council (2019). ASK? Ask About Suicide to Save a Life. https://texassuicideprevention.org/training/

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health (2018). Suicide in America: Frequently Asked Questions (NIH Publication No. 18-6389). Retrieved from http//.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/suicide-faq/index.shtml

Written by:
Dr. Jan
Janice A. Hall Ph.D.
Director of Mental Health/TimelyMD

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Healthier students build stronger campus communities.

Jan 10, 2018 | by timelymd

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Healthier students build stronger campus communities.

The physical and mental health of your student population impacts the strength of the university as a whole. Thoughtful telehealth solutions can help you improve student health, optimize campus resources and concretely demonstrate caring for the needs of students and families.

Around-the-clock access to quality healthcare gives both students and parents valuable peace of mind. When students are supported and empowered by telemedicine, colleges see:

  • Better overall health. Untreated illness can spread disease, fuel campus epidemics and promote the overuse of over-the-counter medications.
  • Reduced absenteeism. Illness can hinder student achievement and grade performance, leading schools to loss of reputation, or even accreditation.
  • More extracurricular participation. When students aren’t healthy, they can’t take on additional activities that create a vibrant, attractive campus life.
  • Optimized campus clinics. Seamless integration, accurate triage and after hours support lets clinics focus on the right cases, so students who need appointments get in quickly.
  • Stronger community. Thoughtful telehealth programs offer a new communications channel between school and student — one focused on good health and positive health routines
  • Happy Parents and Students. Convenient, 24/7 access gives parents confidence that students will get the healthcare they need when they need it.

Explore TimelyMD solutions for higher education.

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