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Handling College Stress

college stress

As summer is quickly turning to fall, for many young people this means that it’s time to go BACK TO SCHOOL. While parents often look forward to the structure that the school-year offers, for students, this can be a very stressful time. Especially for new college students, back to school can mean a new school, a larger campus, fewer friends, and often, a new place to live.  It is understandable then, that nearly 12% of college freshman reported feeling “frequently” depressed.

Mental health issues on college campuses are on the rise . The American College Health Association 1 reported that 51.7% of college students admit to feeling hopeless, and over 86% cited being overcome by their responsibilities in the last 12 months. Suicide is also more frequent, rising to the second leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds.

But Why? The transition from high school to college is a time of personal growth and individuation. Adjusting to new academic, social, and emotional pressures can trigger stress, depression, and mal-adaptive behaviors. In fact, young adulthood is a time when mental health symptoms often begin. Anxiety, stress and depression are the most common complaints among college students. Fueled by academic challenges, loneliness, lack of sleep, and often substance use, in 2016 students seeking mental health services rose 50% over the previous year.

Despite this increase in the use of mental health services, many students do not seek treatment. Studies suggest that as many as 30% of students are not even aware of the counseling services available to them. Stigma is consistently seen as another barrier to treatment. Students may feel that others will discriminate against or look at them differently if they were to use mental health services.

What can we do? College students, more than older adults, tend to look to their family and peers for support. Recognizing the signs of declining mental health and knowing where services are available on campus is a good first step . When asked, students expressed their willingness to help a friend find treatment. But these students need to know where help exists. Learning about the resources (counseling and accommodations) that are available on campus will prepare you for a time when you or someone you know needs help . Also, talking about mental health issues and their importance helps to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.  People sharing their stories of struggles and successes help others to find their voice.

Feeling stressed or depressed?  Give the experts at Cruz Clinic a call and get an initial consultation to see how we can help you, or someone you love.

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