Mental Health Information for International Students

The International Student Program is happy to help you with any concerns that you are facing, including stress and mental health issues.

Note: this information is specific to international students.

International Student Issues

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International Student Issues

Personal Counseling

When personal challenges occur, different cultures have a variety of ways to deal with the problems. In the U.S., people sometimes seek help through counseling. The staff at Student Counseling are trained to help people work through personal difficulties.

What can you expect from a Counselor? Here are some examples:

  • Listen and provide support
  • Help you explore your concerns
  • Possibly offer different perspectives on the situation
  • Help you identify and explore your options
  • Offer resources and referrals

You may arrange an appointment with Student Counseling by calling 320-589-6060.

Health Insurance and Health Care Issues

Health Insurance for International Students

Health insurance is required for all students at the University of Minnesota, Morris. Specific information regarding health insurance for international students can be found here. If you have questions about Health Insurance, please see your ISP advisor. Health Insurance Information

Where to go for medical help

If you are sick, you should seek help from a doctor or nurse. They can recommend an over-the-counter remedy or prescribe a medication, make a referral to a different doctor, or suggest tests to help determine the source of the problem. Students of the University of Minnesota, Morris can talk to a doctor or nurse at Health Service. Also, there is a clinic and hospital near campus, Stevens Community Medical Center.

Types of medical help: Emergency, Urgent Care, Clinic Visit

Health care providers distinguish between emergency services and urgent care. Emergency services are those required for a serious injury or life-threatening illness. Urgent care is given for problems that are less serious but cannot wait for a regular doctor appointment.

Emergency Care

You should go to a hospital emergency department only if the problem is life-threatening or extremely serious. Services provided at an emergency room cost much more than the same services during a clinic visit. Emergency care is available at Stevens Community Medical Center (SCMC).

If you need help getting to the hospital, you can call 911 and an ambulance will take you. Ambulance services are expensive, but sometimes necessary.

Urgent Care

Call your doctor’s office first—you may be able to get an immediate appointment. If not, go to an urgent care department. Urgent care is located at Stevens Community Medical Center (SCMC)

Clinic Visit

Clinic visits are brief appointments with a doctor or nurse to discuss your health concerns. Clinic appointments are usually made ahead of time. You can call the clinic to make an appointment. Be prepared to answer questions, they will ask a lot of questions to make sure they understand the problem. At the University of Minnesota Morris, there are two main places to have a clinic visit. On-campus, you can go to Health Services, or Stevens Community Medical Center is located 4 blocks off campus.

"Over the Counter" remedies

For minor aches and pains, or common colds and flu, medications are available at drug stores, pharmacies, and discount department stores. Medications that do not require a doctor’s prescription, such as aspirin, cold and flu medication, and other pain relievers, are often referred to as “over the counter” medications.

Mental Health

What is Mental Illness?

A mental illness can be defined as a health condition that changes a person’s thinking, feelings, or behavior (or all three), and that causes the person distress and difficulty functioning. As with many diseases, mental illness is severe in some cases and mild in others. Individuals who have a mental illness don’t necessarily look like they are sick, especially if their illness is mild.

From: Mental Health America

Mental Health and Medication

Mental Disorders can be treated with medication. Sometimes called psychotropic or psychotherapeutic medications, they have changed the lives of people with mental disorders for the better. Many people with mental disorders live fulfilling lives with the help of these medications. Without them, people with mental disorders might suffer serious and disabling symptoms.

How are medications used to treat mental disorders?

Medications treat the symptoms of mental disorders. They cannot cure the disorder, but they make people feel better so they can function. Medications work differently for different people. Some people get great results from medications and only need them for a short time. For example, a person with depression may feel much better after taking a medication for a few months, and may never need it again. People with disorders like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, or people who have long-term or severe depression or anxiety may need to take medication for a much longer time. Some people get side effects from medications and other people don't. Doses can be small or large, depending on the medication and the person.

Factors that can affect how medications work in people include:

  • Type of mental disorder, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia
  • Age, sex, and body size
  • Physical illnesses
  • Habits like smoking and drinking
  • Liver and kidney function
  • Genetics
  • Other medications and herbal/vitamin supplements
  • Diet
  • Whether medications are taken as prescribed.

From: National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) “Mental Health Medications”

More Information

Cultural Adjustment Issues

Many international students who are new to the University of Minnesota, Morris experience difficulty with cultural adjustment on some level. “Culture Shock” is very common and is a natural part of acclimating to your new surroundings. Living in a culture different from your own is an exciting and often challenging experience. Aside from finding housing, registering for courses, and getting to know a new place, you will probably go through a transition while adapting to the new culture.

Culture Shock can be very mentally and even physically stressful. There are on-campus resources for you during this period of time. The International Student Program is a place for you to discuss your experience with trained professionals an advisor, as well as get involved in programs to help your cultural adjustment.

ISP offers group programs such as culture hours and a buddy program for first year students. Contact ISP or your Student Ambassador for more information.

Academic Difficulties

Sometimes international students experience academic difficulty, despite the fact that they have been highly successful academically in their home countries. They may face the same types of academic difficulties that U.S. students face, such as test anxiety, difficulty with concentration, or time management. Some difficulties may be related to their unique situation as international students.

It is possible that a variety of differences in the education systems exist between the U.S. and other countries. Some examples could be academic writing style, test formats, amount of student participation expected in the classroom, large and small group discussions, and note-taking practices to name a few.

If you would like to discuss your situation and discover resources and options, the International Student Program (ISP) can assist you. ISP has staff who work with international students on academic issues. Please contact ISP for more specific information. 320-589-6094

Other Resources

Writing Center

Briggs Library 252
Coordinator: Joshua Johnson

The writing room is staffed by English Instructors and students who are trained to help students analyze and improve their papers. Tutors can help students at any stage of the writing process.

English Language Issues

In the beginning, it may be difficult to adjust to the speed and accent of American speakers. In most cases, with a little time, students’ skills improve. In many countries, English language classes focus more on the written word and less on oral and aural skill development. Seeing improvement in your skills and becoming more comfortable takes time and practice. Alternatively, you may be experiencing a crisis of confidence rather than actual language difficulties. The more opportunities you find to use the language, the quicker you will overcome this crisis.

How to address specific weaknesses

If your listening skills are weak, continue taking notes in class, but consider taping lectures or borrowing another student’s notes (this can be a good way to make contact with U.S. students as well as provide a means for checking your comprehension). Spend time listening to the radio and/or TV even if you can not follow everything being said.

If your speaking skills are weak, you might benefit from becoming active on campus. Join a student group or another club based on your interests like International Student Association or participating in activities in the dorms like floor programs and meetings. Participate in an intramural sports team. Throughout the school year, Intramurals and Recreation offers team and individual sport opportunities, like basketball, racquetball, and soccer.

Go to a Culture hour, sign up for a trip through ISA’s Cougar Cruising Program, or participate in volunteer opportunities through the Office of Community Engagement. Living with roommates who do not speak your language can also provide you with speaking opportunities. International Student Program Events and Programs.

If you have difficulties with writing, visit The Writing Center or seek help from a tutor. Tutors can be arranged through the Office of Academic Success.

English as a Second Language (ESL) classes are offered on campus and address each of these areas. The ESL department offers classes in oral skills, reading and composition. ESL classes are really useful! Some students find it helpful to take the same ESL class several times because there's always an opportunity to improve one’s skills. If you have questions, talk to the ESL coordinator, Nancy Pederson. 320-589-6454

If you want to see improvement in your language skills it is essential to participate in activities that allow you to practice English every day. It’s understandable if the idea of speaking English with Americans who are strangers makes you nervous. It’s important to remind yourself what you can gain from improving your English and what you will lose if you do not.

NOTE: Due to visa regulations, international students who are having difficulties in a course because of English should not drop below full-time without first meeting with an ISP adviser in Multi-Ethnic Resource Center, room 115. Please contact ISP for more specific information. 320-589-6094

University Resources

English as a Second Language (ESL)

ESL Coordinator, Nancy Pederson 320-589-6454

International Student Program

Multi Ethnic Resource Center 115

The International Student Program advises students on many issues such as immigration, academics, adjusting to the United States, and other matters that affect international students. ISP is also a resource to faculty and staff for consultation on issues pertaining to international students.

Visa and Immigration Issues

Students who are experiencing stress or mental health related difficulties which challenge their ability to maintain their immigration status can consult with an adviser from the International Student Program (ISP) to explore their options. Seeking help or speaking with an advisor regarding stress or mental health issues does not affect your immigration status.

If health related issues cause a student to be unable to maintain a full course load, reduced course load authorization from ISP may be available while the student seeks assistance or is coping with the effects of stress or mental health related problems.

If the student needs additional time to achieve their academic goals or finish her or his program within the time limits previously set, due to mental health related issues, a program extension may be possible and the student should contact ISP for more information.

When a student is out of status, a reinstatement of legal status might be possible if the reason why status was not maintained is due to mental health related issues. Again ISP should be contacted as soon as possible.

It is important that you seek professional help. In order to qualify for most of the options above requires documentation from a professional care provider. Please contact ISP for more specific information.



The International Student Program is committed to providing advising and referral services for international students and their families for any stress related or mental health issues. International Student Program often works with Student Counseling and will make referral there if mental health issues may be interfering. ISP will help you examine whether there will be any potential consequences for your immigration status.

It is not uncommon for stress and other mental health concerns to interfere with your academic goals. If you feel that you are having academic difficulties due to mental health concerns, please talk to an ISP Advisor to explore what kinds of assistance are available.

Families, Partners, Parents, and Friends of International Students

If a friend or family member of a student has concerns about the well being of that person, they should speak with an adviser at ISP. This is very important since the mental health of a student may have effects on immigration status because it may impair making successful progress towards academic goals. Sometimes the person who is having the difficulties is unwilling or unable to ask for assistance, so it is important that you help. ISP will work with you to assist the person who is having difficulties. An ISP advisor can help direct the student to the right resources on campus and in the community. Please contact ISP for more specific information. 320-589-6094

Helping a Friend

General Guidelines

As a friend of another University of Minnesota, Morris student, you have a unique opportunity to positively impact your friend’s life. When a student is upset or in distress, she/he commonly turns to friends for support or advice. College students generally like to help out their friends. Much of the time, this works out well and your input helps your friend through her/his problem. At other times the problems that are brought by a friend can be very intense, feel overwhelming, or make you feel afraid. It is important to pay attention to these feelings, since they may be signaling that you are at the limits of what you know to do to be helpful. It is at this time that you can best help your friend by suggesting that she/he might benefit from talking to a professional.

Remember: You are not alone! When you are in a situation in which you are talking with a friend about her/his problems, here are some general guidelines to keep in mind:

Do not take on other people’s problems and then feel responsible for the outcome of the problem.

If you find that you are spending large amounts of time talking to your friend, worrying about her/him, and/or trying to solve their problems for her/him, it is time for you to bring in other people to help. You are here for an education and growth experiences, and taking on other’s problems distracts you from those goals.

Do not promise your friend confidentiality of any information they may pass along to you when they talk to you about a problem.

By doing so, you may later be in a difficult situation if the situation is beyond what you can assist and has possibly turned into a situation involving danger for your friend or others. You may delay asking for needed help because you promised not to tell anyone.

Get support for yourself if you feel you need it or if you do not know what to do to help your friend any further.

There are many resources available at the university and you can find these listed at the mental health web page. Student Counseling provides consultation to students and other who are unsure about what to do to help a distressed student. If you are in the residence halls, please talk with a residence hall staff member and they can direct you to additional resources as well.

Safety always comes first.

If you are concerned for the safety of you, your friend, or anyone else, call Public Safety immediately. 320-589-6000

If you feel an issue was a violation of the Student Code of Conduct, please contact the Secretary of the Student Behavior Committee, and the Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Life, Henry Fulda. 320-589-6470.