Dealing with stress as a college student

Lynandro Simmons – Special to the Southern News

College can be very a stressful experience and some people don’t know how to handle that pressure, said Gracia Maluta.

“Some people can cope with it better than others,” said Maluta, a senior biology major.

However, Maluta said America does a decent job trying to address the issue of mental health and how it affects students. She added that America views this issue as a real problem.

Where she is originally from, Congo, people often view the issue of mental health differently, said Maluta.

“People view mental health issues as something you cause on yourself there,” said Maluta.

Southern’s stress management class was something Maluta pointed out to be very helpful. However, in terms of the awareness of mental health issues, Maluta added she doesn’t think many students are knowledgeable.

“I don’t hear about mental health much in college,” said Maluta.

She said to help improve this Southern should have more events and activities. These events can also teach students how to directly address stress and mental health, said Maluta.

“I think it would really be helpful for incoming freshmen,” she said. “It’ll help them to understand what they’ll deal with in college.”

Cooperative Institutional Research Program Freshman Survey, an annual survey administered nationally at UCLA, said first-year college students self-ratings of their emotional health dropped to record lows in 2010. Only 51.9 percent of students reported their emotional health as “above average.” This marked a significant drop from the 63.6 percent who placed themselves in this category when the survey was conducted in 1985.

Danielle Lacey, a junior pre-nursing major, said the majority of America doesn’t seem to take the issue of mental health serious.

“They’ll tell you it’s in your head, or think of something else,” said Lacey. “If you were to have a broken arm you’re not going to just think of something else.”

The dean’s list, a student’s major, professors – these all could cause students to feel immense pressure, said Lacey.

“Sometimes it can be all too much for people,” said Lacey.

Colleges do seem to understand the stress they place on students, she said. However, more resources, outlets, and programs centered on depression or anxiety for students were needed, said Lacey.

Dr. Kenneth Walters, a psychology professor, said that over the decade the issue of mental health has begun to be addressed better. He pointed out that up until the 1980’s mental health was viewed as a stigma.

“Not a lot of stigma is associated with it now,” said Walters.

However, when it came to college and its effects on students, Walters said often college and student’s health are directly connected. On one end, Walters said a student with depression could feel increased stress during certain parts of the semester. However, a mental health issue a student already had before college could greatly affect their college performance, said Walters.

“If you take the whole college population, those with mental health issues won’t be good at dealing with college in the first place,” said Walters.

Over the past 30 years, Walters said that a nationwide trend has occurred in the development of counseling programs and college health care centers.

Though there are areas colleges can improve upon, Walters said he’s never worked in a college without a counseling program. Walters said now colleges need to focus more on high-risk areas like addiction.

“We have to get a handle on these problems,” said Walters.. “They’re hurting people greatly.”

Photo Credit: Staff Photo


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