The recent economic downturn has caused college students extra stress, like financial concerns and the lack of job prospects after graduation.

The start of a new school year can bring about a number of emotions for college students.

For first-year students, it marks a time of change and excitement. For returning undergraduates, it's a time to see old friends, meet new professors, and more importantly, it puts them one year closer to graduation.

When classes start and the school year kicks into gear, all of the usual stressors school work, extra curricular activities, and social relationships begin to surface. Being stressed is a part of life, especially during college. Last year, 85 percent of students reported that they experienced stress on a daily basis. But given the recent economic downturn, college students have extra stress, like financial woes, part-time job responsibilities, and concerns about job prospects after graduation.

Undergrads need to be reminded how important it is to manage their health. When things get tough, they should consider these tips:

Watch your drinking
Watch your spending
Plan your day carefully
Take study breaks
Get some sleep
Build healthy eating habits
Get involved
Communicate with your roommate
Stay connected
Don't be afraid to ask for help

Local students can rely on Mental Health America of Franklin County (MHAFC) to help navigate them on the road to better mental health. MHAFC is the only mental health agency in Franklin County that offers free and anonymous support groups, provide community services like free mental health screenings, provide an online resource directory searchable by keyword and has downloadable information about hundreds of mental health topics.

For more information on helping a friend or yourself cope with mental health problems, call Mental Health America of Franklin County at (614) 221-1441, or log on to www.mhafc.org.