Feeling connected and close to others is another important aspect of good mental health. Almost every college student feels stressed or overwhelmed at times. Supportive relationships help make these challenging times more manageable.
Tips for Healthy Relationships
The symptoms of mental health disorders can make it difficult to start new relationships or to get the most out of existing relationships. For example, anxiety can lead to feelings of insecurity that others will not like you or are judging you negatively. Symptoms of depression such as irritability or a desire to isolate can get in the way of developing and maintaining satisfying and healthy relationships.
Although we may think we know how to distinguish between a healthy relationship and an unhealthy one, creating and sustaining healthy relationships is not always simple. See the links in the box at right to find resources about developing and maintaining healthy relationships. If you find yourself struggling with interpersonal issues, psychotherapy may be helpful as well.
When you find yourself experiencing relationship conflicts that may require the assistance of an outside person such as a mediator, the University has resources that can provide this assistance in certain situations:
- For conflicts with your roommate, landlord or neighbors, contact University Housing. This is an excellent resource for assistance with housing conflicts for students who live on or off-campus.
- If you are living in off-campus housing, you can contact the Housing Information Office. Set up specifically for students living off-campus, this office can provide a mediator who will help you resolve conflicts with roommates, landlords, subletters, or neighbors.
- The Office of Student Conflict Resolution (OSCR) provides assistance and consultation for any U-M student who believes their rights as a student have been violated.
Students with healthy, supportive relationships tend to have better mental health than those without these ties. There are a number of opportunities on campus to meet students who share similar interests and lifestyles.
- Residence Halls: Living in the residence hall can be a great way to meet and connect with new people. Even when you don’t feel like going out, you can use meal times in the cafeteria or hall activities as opportunities to engage with others. As a resident of a hall, you will be invited to join in on many events such as movie screenings, concerts, and sports events.
- Student Organizations: Joining a student organization can help you connect with other students that share your interests. With a large student population, U-M has a student organization to match almost any interest. To find a group with similar interests as your own, visit Maize Pages, or attend Festifall or Northfest, large events held each year to showcase student groups on campus.
- Club sports: A great way to meet others with similar interests is to join a club sport or exercise class that you enjoy. In addition to meeting people, you will get the extra benefit of regular physical activity.
- Student support services for LGBT student community: U-M offers support services for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender student community through the Spectrum Center. Visit the Spectrum Center website for information about services, events, and coming-out support groups.
- Mentor programs: Joining a mentoring program is a great opportunity for students to get to know the campus and meet other students in similar situations through individual pairings, small groups, and large group meetings all over campus. There are several programs available for a variety of groups and schools such as nursing and kinesiology. Participation in these programs is available to incoming students, transfer students, upperclassmen, graduate students, and military veterans.
- Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs (MESA) Students of color may benefit by connecting with students with similar ethnic and cultural backgrounds through social, intellectual, and cultural gatherings. See the MESA website for more information.
- Spiritual and Religious groups and associations: Many spiritual and religious associations hold various events for their members including social activities. These activities can be an excellent way to stay connected to your faith while meeting others with similar beliefs. Visit The Association of Religious Counselors to learn more about the spiritual resources available to University of Michigan students and faculty.
Keys to Staying Socially Connected at U-M
- Participation. It is hard to feel a sense of belonging at college if you do not participate in school or community activities. Even if you don’t see yourself as the “typical” college student, you can find students at U-M with similar interests and experiences. But you have to willing to look for them! The resources listed above can help.
- Balance. If you are a very serious student, or if you do not find people you connect with right away, you may feel tempted to bury yourself in schoolwork rather than seeking out relationships. Remember, there is much to learn and experience in college that can’t be found in textbooks or research laboratories. Making social relationships a priority can help make college a fulfilling as well as an educational experience.
- Quality over Quantity. There are many large social networks on-campus (e.g., fraternities/sororities, club sports, etc.). Some people feel very comfortable in these large networks and enjoy having the opportunity to meet many new friends. Others feel more comfortable among smaller groups of friends. If you fall into the latter group, you may worry about not having enough friends or not being popular enough. Remember, the number of friends you have is not nearly as important as the quality of your relationships. Having one or two close friends may be all you need to have a healthy social life.
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