Frequently Asked Questions

What steps should you take to get ready for college or work if you have a mental health issue?

Planning should start with treatment providers (doctors and therapists) as early as 1–2 years before the transition. Planning should include:

  • practicing daily life skills - everything from managing money to taking care of hygiene
  • learning about your diagnosis and what to tell employers, teachers, or school
  • practicing taking charge of your healthcare, such as making appointments, filling prescriptions, taking medications consistently, learning how to use your health insurance
  • learning where and how to get help, for example from your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), the school’s Student Counseling and Student Disability Centers, or treatment providers in the new local community


How do you know when help is needed?

When starting college or a new job and living on your own for the first time, young people usually go through some ups and downs. Problems that last and make it difficult to study, work, take care of routine tasks or hygiene may be a sign of a more serious problem and the need for help. Other warning signs include: losing interest in activities or being social, worrying too much, extreme swings in mood, and problems with sleep.


How do you find mental health providers at college or nearby in the community?

Good resources include: Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), college counseling and student health centers, local hospitals/medical centers, doctors and therapists in private practice, and community mental health centers.


What are the rights of young adults in regard to keeping health care information confidential and the rights of parents in regard to getting health care information about their adult children?

Decisions on how much communication the young adult wants and will allow between their family and treatment providers should be made before the young person moves out of the family home or leaves for college. This should include the signing of consent forms by the young adult if they want their family to communicate with their treatment providers. Protection of personal health care information is determined by a set of federal laws known as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) as well as state statutes. Another federal law called FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) protects student records and applies to college students. It is important to know that anyone with serious concerns about the health and safety of a family member or friend can always contact the local police, employee assistance program, or student health/counseling center of the young adult even without signed consent.


Are there tips that can help with being consistent with treatment, such as taking medication as recommended and/or keeping therapy appointments?

Practice (or have your child practice) taking care of mental health and medical needs while still in high school. For example, learn (or teach your child) how to use insurance, fill a prescription, and schedule and keep track of appointments. Taking advantage of technology such as one of the many available "Medication Reminder", "Appointment Reminder", and "Mood Log" apps can be very helpful. If possible, plan to meet with new treatment providers before ending treatment with your old providers and make sure to request communication between them.


What can be done when a young adult doesn’t want help or doesn't think that they need help?

Keep communicating. Often young adults deny or do not understand that they have a mental health problem. Sometimes they need to hear it many times or from multiple people before they will listen and seek help. You may be the one to plant the seed that starts them on the road to getting help.