Ask Kari: My son struggled with depression his first year in college — how can I help him in his second year?

Dear Kari,

My son is returning to his second year of college soon, and he struggled all freshman year with depression. How can I help him have a more successful second year? I don’t want to worry about him every day like I did before. Do you have any recommendations for us?

A Worried Momma

Dear Worried Momma,

I am sorry to hear that your son struggled his first year away from home. I recommend that you develop a system to connect on most days of the week. Texting is not enough; instead I recommend that you plan to Facetime or Skype at a particular time each day, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Seeing someone’s face and hearing their voice at the same time can connect us instantly in a way that email and text does not. Practicing this act should help your son feel supported by you and cared for on a regular basis, which helps with depression. Also, I recommend that your son connect with others in his school community. Some options could be to join a group he is interested in on campus, or even work out at his school’s recreation center. Choosing such activities puts him in a room with others, wherein he may can find more connections with others, which also helps with depression. Lastly, if your son practices these recommendations and still feels lonely, isolated, or depressed, I recommend that he seek out counseling support at the student health center on campus or with a local therapist in the area where he attends college for additional support. I wish him the best.


As published in the September 2016 issue of Connections.


About Kari:

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a licensed independent clinical social worker and a resident of Issaquah Highlands.

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