Colleges face mental health issues

Stress is a large part of life at Seattle Pacific, sophomore Bryanne Wochnick said.

“People feel like they need to accomplish more and more things,” she said. “Expectations are high, and there’s pressure to achieve more and get things done faster.”

Often, the stress of college life can lead to depression in students, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

And college students are feeling more stressed today than they have in the past 25 years, the Higher Education Institute said, based on its annual survey of college students’ health and habits.

Accordingly, the number of students suffering from moderate to severe depression has increased over the last decade from 34 to 41 percent, Dr. John Guthman, director of the clinical psychology program at Hofstra University, found in a 2010 study.

Wochnick said she’s trying to cope with the stress of life.

“But there’s always something that has to be done,” she said. “Sometimes, I get to the point where I can’t do any more.”

Wochnick plans to major in psychology before attending graduate school. She eventually wants to be a forensic psychologist. She’s usually in class all day and at track practice after that, spending the rest of the evening doing homework before bed, she said.

But stress in college does not only come from being busy with school commitments, said Shawn Whitney, assistant director of SPU’s Student Counseling Center. Whitney said he has monitored stress in students over the last several years.

“Students are pressed from a variety of directions,” he said. “I think the college students are under higher stress than they used to be.”

Part of this increase in stress, he said, comes from the current state of the economy.

“As a college student, I was not mindful of finances the way students are worried about them now,” he said.

Students are now more worried about how to pay for their own educations and about the economy’s impact on their parents’ finances, he said.

A large part of the stress on college students is generational, said Dr. Jeff Jordan, associate vice president of academic affairs. “The millennial generation is under a lot of expectations for success,” he said.

Wochnick identifies with these expectations. “My family expects me to graduate college and get a job,” she said. “I feel a lot of pressure from them.”

But Wochnick said she thinks high expectations are especially present at SPU.

“I feel like people at SPU manage more things than at other schools,” she said, basing her statement on a visit to University of Oregon.

“It seemed like people [there] were less focused on achieving and being involved,” she said.

Dr. Jordan said the adjustment to the independence that college brings is also stressful.

To Whitney, some of the biggest changes for college students recently have been technological.

“I wasn’t really challenged by relationships with technology as a college student,” he said. “But … everything is so much more fast-paced now. It’s much more difficult to keep up.”

Whitney said that now, students are expected to be constantly checking and responding to email. It adds to convenience, he said, but it also adds to stress.

Similarly, social networking websites increase both stress and low self-esteem that could lead to depression in young adults, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Facebook can make people feel isolated, the academy said, because it makes popularity tangible through friend counts. It also gives distorted views of other people by showcasing the most positive parts of their lives through status updates and photos, the academy said.

Freshman Chanel Stephens said she can see how Facebook could be problematic for people with low self-esteem.

“You see all your friends checking in to places,” she said, “and you think, ‘Oh, I wasn’t invited to that.’”

Overall, Wochnick said, expectations and competition are what cause stress in the lives of college students.

“People can see someone doing so much, and they start to feel like they need to do more too,” she said.

This article was imported from The Falcon’s Records
If you find an error, mistake, or omission due to the import process, please contact us.
Original Metadata about the article can be found below

Title: Colleges face mental health issues | Author: Megan Hoye | Section: News | Published Date: 2011-11-30 | Internal ID: 7922