If you’re in college or know someone who is, you’re undoubtedly aware that today’s students are reporting higher levels of stress, anxiety, and uneasiness. College costs, pressure to achieve, and ongoing pandemic concerns are putting an unfair load on younger adults, most of whom have had limited experience handling multiple levels of upheaval. One secret to student success in college? Manage those stressors!
An American College Health Association (ACHA) survey indicates three out of five students experienced “overwhelming” anxiety in the past year. Plus, student burnout rose drastically from August 2020 to April 2021.
That’s according to Bernadette Melnyk, Ph.D., a certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner who’s the chief wellness officer and dean of the College of Nursing at The Ohio State University. Her team’s surveys show that overall, college students’ mental health is declining.
In her team’s surveys, those who demonstrated signs of anxiety rose from 39 to 43%. Those who screened positive for depression rose from 24 % to 28 %. As symptoms of mental health issues increase, the likelihood of student success decreases.
While the need to counteract this rise seems obvious, not every college or university is tuned in to the magnitude of the problem. University-sponsored wellness plans offering solutions for emotional, social, and academic concerns vary widely from school to school.
The ACHA reports only about 10-15% of struggling college students decide to seek help from their university’s counseling services.
Experts say student success, particularly in college, depends on self-action to maintain physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing.
There are many variations of action steps, but the general themes for reducing college stress and anxiety – especially during end-of-term exam periods and holidays – cover five broad areas.
1. Establish healthy habits that fit you.
Be aware of the damage stress can do, and make a plan to defuse it. Regular physical activity and healthy eating are essential for mind-body balance. It’s a bonus if your college offers an on-campus fitness facility and cafeteria services, so be sure to take advantage of them.
2. Build up your coping skills.
Learn and practice deep breathing or mindfulness habits. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones to avoid falling into an “everything is going wrong” mentality.
3. Find and use emotional/mental health resources.
Explore your University’s student services resources. Rather than offer limited in-house services, many universities are contracting with external organizations to provide comprehensive services.
These services are typically free to students and often are available to immediate family members. Community-based counseling services are another option, and many of them have sliding scale fees.
4. Dive into your support systems.
Here, experts agree: Getting involved in campus life, scheduling time for social and recreational activities, and meeting new people by joining clubs and groups all deliver stress/anxiety-reducing benefits.
5. Self-monitor, take action.
The earlier students recognize a stress-induced problem, the better. When not concentrating or functioning, as you’d like, seek professional help.
A Comprehensive View of Student Success Factors
“Student mental health and wellbeing are central to the mission, purpose, and outcomes of every school,” says Sara Abelson, a senior director of Active Minds. The organization seeks to reduce the stigma surrounding mental and emotional health issues and presents yearly at more than 1,000 campuses, schools, communities, and workplaces.
A student-success program called WellConnect, offered by New Directions Behavioral Health, contracts with colleges and universities to provide a multi-layered approach to help. Its services are designed to supplement resources available on-campus and increase access to services across the board.
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, chiropractic and health sciences university in Overland Park, Kansas, within the Kansas City metro. For nearly 100 years, we’ve been helping create a healthier world. It’s a mission where we’re seeking to assist in student success through comprehensive student services.
In 2021, CUKC expanded its focus by contracting with WellConnect, bringing a wider array of student resources, including limited financial and legal assistance and counseling for life events.
Our degree programs range from an associate degree in biological sciences to associate degrees in healthcare support professions like radiologic technology and occupational therapy assistant to the Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree.
Discover the right CUKC academic degree program for you today by requesting information here. Getting prepared for college? An excellent resource to have is this free eBook, “Your Complete Guide to Navigating College Financial Aid.”