Hi 81 / Lo 73
|Volume 71, Issue 136,
Thursday, April 27, 2006
College blues steadily becoming more prevalent
Around finals time, the general stress level on campus rises. Bleary-eyed students walk through campus like zombies, pushing themselves to get through their exams with their minds focused on the sweet relief of summer or winter break.
But it's no big deal -- finals burnout comes with the territory. What can be even more harmful, however, are the less tangible factors that can make college difficult. Dealing with a transition to a new environment away from friends and family can bring quite a bit of anxiety and confusion for students.
Sadly, it's that dynamic that likely has led to suicide being the second-leading cause of death for college students. A recent University of California at Los Angeles survey found freshmen nowadays are feeling more stressed than those who entered college 15 years ago. The National Mental Health Association reported anxiety levels among university students has been rising since the 1950s -- currently, 7 percent of students feel significant anxiety. In addition, the highest rate of eating disorders among women occurs among college-age women.
There's not much that can be done about the cause of the problem, which some experts have hypothesized stems from the fact that students are more sheltered than ever before and mental issues have become more prevalent over generations. It's also worth considering that such health problems might not be rising as dramatically as statistics suggest, instead simply being studied more thoroughly and reported more frequently than 50 years ago. Of course, that doesn't explain everything, prompting inquiries like why stress would be on the rise compared to only 15 years ago.
No matter the cause, if you feel depressed or anxious for long periods of time, seek some of the professional help that is offered on campus -- you've already paid for most of it, after all. If you've got a serious problem, counselors will almost always make you a priority. And if you notice a friend who seems to be down more often than normal, talk about it and encourage him or her to do the same.
For more information on UH Counseling and Psychological Services, visit www.caps.uh.edu.
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