Going to college is both exciting and terrifying—let’s be honest. Having anxiety is completely normal and everyone experiences it differently. Anxiety does not need to control your life, we deserve to live the life we want not the life our mental health wants us to. My name is Brooke Ketterer, I am a two-year graduate of the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, a division of Niagara County Community College (NCCC) in Pastry Arts and I am diagnosed with anxiety and OCD.
During my high school years, I was hospitalized at BryLin Hospital for complications due to an overprescription by my physician. I was uncertain if I could finish high school successfully let alone go to college. Over time, with the help of professionals and counselors, I completed high school and left with college scholarships under my belt. However, my final choice for college depended on the help provided for mental health. One thing many students and parents forget is that help doesn’t stop after high school!
The biggest piece of advice I can offer from my experience is while researching colleges, also look into the advisory and counseling services. Open houses are a great opportunity to meet the counselors and medical authorities, allowing yourself to be assured that your conditions will be taken as a priority. Reality is that not all colleges are equipped with the proper training and knowledge for dealing with students who struggle with mental health issues. But, never feel like you have to settle, there are colleges who will work with you in order to become successful!
I know firsthand how nerve-racking college can be, especially if you do have mental health issues. The fact is, you’re never alone and life does carry on after a diagnosis no matter what stigma or statistics say. The stigma and success rates surrounding the mental health community, especially when it comes to schooling, is what drives us to show others that we are just as capable of becoming successful. One of the bravest things a person can do is decide to ask for help in a state of vulnerability and uncertainty. As terrifying as our mind can make a situation seem, it has the same ability to make it the most encouraging. Through the help provided in college, I learned to use my mind for the benefit of my career and most importantly my happiness.
Brooke will be a panelist for the September 15th Facebook Live: Back to College – Supporting Your Students Mental Health.