An estimated 2.2 million high school students will begin college each fall, and while this school year is just beginning it’s not too early or too late for students and parents to discuss the college transition.

With new-found independence, social relationships, and exploration of a new world, this transition can be an exciting time for most.  However, with all these new experiences can come the challenges of increased stress, isolation, and separation from the support systems of family and friends back home. This time of transition can be difficult for students, and it can trigger emotional or mental health crises. Without strong supports, some students may experience bouts of severe depression, anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, or other symptoms.

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and The Jed Foundation recognize the challenges that this time presents for families and students.  For this reason, they partnered to develop a new guide to help students and parents prepare for the transition to college and ensure a plan is in place in the event of an emotional crisis.

TIME also published a story demonstrating the importance of this conversation. The article, titled, “Why College Is a Risky Time for Student’s Mental Health,” shares how access to information and coordinating support after a mental health crisis can be especially difficult for families of students.  Using the new guide, families can plan for some of the common pitfalls, such as sharing of personal health information, grades, and school incidents, which can be critical in recognizing a possible crisis and coordinating treatment.

While some students may never experience a severe crisis, it never hurts to be prepared as the information could also help a friend or classmate through a difficult time.