By Melissa Collins, Child Welfare Intern at Kentucky Youth Advocates

With the start of the fall semester right around the corner, college students are dusting off their backpacks and beginning to plan for their return to classes. 

Just because we are gearing up for the new academic year does not mean that the world around us has come to a screeching halt. Both the COVID-19 pandemic and uprisings against racial injustice, two issues that have been important concerns the past few months, continue to persist within our communities.

While these are certainly unprecedented times, colleges and universities can help cultivate a smooth transition back to college life by focusing on the health and safety of students through a trauma-informed approach.

Below is a list of some trauma-informed practices that may help students cope with their uncertainty, stress, and trauma as they return to classes this fall:


  • Ensure that counseling services are both readily available and normalized to help students process and cope.
  • Take part in Mental Health First Aid training to help identify, understand and intervene when a student is in need.
  • Integrate mental health and self-care components into the course curriculum.
  • Distribute resource cards to all students with information on campus and community mental health resources.
  • Normalize accessing therapy and asking for help!


  • Reach out to a peer to see how they are doing–write a note, send a text message, talk on the phone, set up a Zoom call, etc.
  • Create student support groups. These support groups could be socially-distant small groups or even virtual meetings.
  • Create a campus-wide self-care campaign through an organization or club you are involved in.
  • Normalize accessing therapy and asking for help!

These practices are great starting points for cultivating a campus of caring as students begin the upcoming fall semester. By providing ample support to one another, we will get through these uncertain times together! 

A special “thank you” to Centre College’s Student Health and Counseling staff for their recommendations.

This post is part of the blog series, Intern Insights. Photo courtesy of Unsplash.