Preparing for College

Students with mental illnesses face unique challenges in college. The key to meeting these challenges is to take an active role in managing your mental health.

Planning is the first step to staying healthy and succeeding in college, especially if you have a mental illness.

Make your own plan to stay healthy.

  • Start by reviewing the checklist of tips for a smooth transition.
  • Next, complete the Health and Wellness Plan to create your own plan for maintaining mental health and wellness while at U-M. Once you have completed the plan, print it, revisit it, and modify it as you see fit.
  • The transition to college is a different experience for everyone. To help you prepare for college, read through some common challenges students face and strategies students have used in the past.

    1. Time management: Classes meet less often than in high school so you will have to spend more time working independently or in groups outside of class.  Finding time for school work while balancing your social life and other outside responsibilities can be challenging, but practicing a few time management skills can help you get your schedule under control, stay on task, and reduce stress. See self-care strategies for some helpful time management tips.
    2. Academic support: You may find yourself in larger classes or classes with fewer graded assignments than you’re used to, and you’re likely to receive less verbal and written feedback from your instructors as well. Attending your instructor’s’ office hours can be a good way to connect with them, talk about how you are doing in the class, and get help if
    3. you need it. U-M also has many free academic resources available for your use. Many new students find that adjusting to the academic demands of U-M can be stressful. During your transition to U-M you’re likely to find that differences in your work load, class structure or other aspects of academic life may take some getting used to. For some, symptoms associated with mental illnesses are the cause of their academic difficulties. By addressing mental health needs, sooner rather than later, you can help minimize or even prevent academic trouble.
    4. Stress management: Grades are often based on a just a few exams and assignments that happen around the same time during the term, rather than on regular projects, quizzes and tests that are evenly spaced throughout the term. This can create periods of heightened stress. Keeping up with work throughout the semester, getting enough sleep, and practicing some stress management and relaxation techniques can help reduce stress and make exam time more manageable.


Whether you’re trying to make new friends, exploring a new romance, or learning to live with a new roommate, social relationships can sometimes be a source of stress, but more often are a source of support. By embracing the challenge to form new relationships in college, you are connecting with your community and promoting good mental health.

  1. Residence life: 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.
  2. 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.
  • Consider joining the U-M Eisenberg Depression Center Student Advisory Board. The Eisenberg Depression Center Student Advisory Board is comprised of students who are committed to engaging with and supporting the Eisenberg Depression Center’s mission of outreach and education, in order to raise awareness of support resources, encourage help-seeking, and reduce the stigma of mental illness on the U-M campus. Advisory Board members provide input and perspective regarding the Center’s outreach and education initiatives; help to create new programming to engage and inform U-M students; and connect with other mental-health related student groups and activities at U-M.
  • If you are interested in becoming a member of the Eisenberg Depression Center Student Advisory Board, please contact Lizelle Salazar, Outreach & Education Coordinator, at
  • Click here to see a full list of student groups focused on mental health

Check out our Students Who Identify As section if you would like more information on specific support and social services focused on certain identities.

“Student Spotlight” section under Students tab will be (renamed as “Students Who Identify As” section and will need to be linked here.)


Whether you’re living on your own for the first time or searching for off-campus housing in Ann Arbor, issues related to your living situation may create stress.

  1. New responsibilities: Independent living comes with new responsibilities like cleaning, doing laundry, grocery shopping, and paying bills. Consider taking this free Finance for Everyone online course.
  2. Roommates: If you’re a first-year student, this may be the first time that you’ve lived with a roommate. Talking with him/her about expectations and finding ways to compromise and share responsibilities can help you both avoid problems. If you and your roommate need help mediating a conflict, you can talk with your hall resident advisor, or see the Office of Student Conflict Resolution (OSCR) website.
  3. Housing: The U-M housing website has information on undergraduate, graduate, family, and off-campus housing.


Making your health a priority in college can be challenging when so many other responsibilities compete for your time and attention. But it’s important to remember that your physical health and your mental health are connected. Finding ways to stay physically healthy can help you feel better and prevent or manage your mental health symptoms.

  • Lifestyle: Though you may feel that you are too busy to get enough sleep, eat nutritiously, or exercise, all of these lifestyle factors can have an impact on your mental health as well as your academic performance. See the section of this website on self-care for information on ways to stay healthy on campus.
  • Alcohol and other drugs: Some students believe that using alcohol or other drugs will relieve the symptoms of their mental illness, but in reality these substances are more likely to interfere with recovery. The majority of U-M students make smart decisions when it comes to alcohol and other drugs. But if you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or drug use, resources are available to help with everything from learning moderation strategies to locating substance abuse recovery services.
  • Health care: It’s easy to forget to schedule regular medical checkups. But don’t discount their importance in managing your health. To help you stay healthy, University Health Service offers both walk-in and scheduled appointments, and most services are already covered by the health service fee which is paid as part of your tuition. Click here for more information on how to schedule an appointment.


One of the most difficult decisions faced by students with mental illnesses is whether or not to be open with other students, professors, and administrators about their illness. It may not always be appropriate or necessary to disclose the details of your mental illness, but it’s always a good idea to consider the pros and cons of disclosure in different situations, and plan for scenarios that may arise. If you are having trouble deciding to disclose your mental illness, this worksheet could help.

  • Academic disclosure: Whether or not you choose to disclose information about your mental illness, it is helpful to speak with your instructor about what steps you can take to get back on track if you feel you are falling behind academically. The earlier academic difficulties are recognized and addressed, the greater your chance for success.  Visiting the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities can be helpful if you would benefit from academic accommodations.
  • Social disclosure: You may worry about the reaction of other students if you disclose your mental illness. Having a support network of friends can be beneficial. If you don’t know anyone you feel comfortable sharing your story with, consider speaking with other students at any of the variety of mental health student organizations available on campus.

Additional Resources:

    • Visit MiTalk, for more information on college mental health topics.

“Try to get into a regular schedule as soon as you can! Find a few student organizations you’re genuinely passionate about and try to create a weekly schedule with your classes, meetings, etc. but also schedule homework and study time right into your day so you don’t find yourself staying up all night cramming. Sleep matters and having a set schedule helps ensure you get the hours you need! Also, UHS and CAPS are valuable resources that you should use regularly, not just when your health, mental or physical, gets to emergency level.”



Get Help Now - Crisis Text Line 741-741 // Call U-M Crisis Phone Line: (734) 936-5900 or (734) 996-4747