Sunday, August 22, 2010

More students than ever feeling the strain

An article published in the August 20th edition of Kelowna Capital News:
Sitting in a capacious lecture theatre at university for a first-year student can be daunting.

In the stiff chairs around you are a hundred faces you don’t know. You have to be attentive to the professor because you need a good grade in this class to take the next course, but you just can’t follow what he’s saying.

You keep thinking about how you’re going to pay for your books this semester. Your laundry hasn’t been done for weeks. Your work schedule has you stressed with not enough time to study and your caffeine intake has tripled. Your girlfriend is upset you don’t see her enough.

Add into the mix, you’re being treated for depression and anxiety disorders.


According to a 2009 study by the American Health College Association, 84 per cent of the college students polled said over the past year they had felt at some time “overwhelmed by all they had to do” and 81 per cent “felt exhausted.”

As many as 49 per cent felt “overwhelming anxiety” and six per cent said they had “seriously considered suicide.”

It’s understandable. Some students are away from home for the first time, without their supports and high school friends and have to manage a heavier school and life load independently. It’s a sharp shift from the cocoon of home and high school.

But, the report also noted that college councillors are noticing more students showing up at their door and coming with more severe mental health issues.

Anecdotally, Okanagan College counselling services chairman Glendon Wiebe says the results of the American study are reflected at the college.

“I do feel the severity of the presenting issues has increased,” he says.

That’s not necessarily something to be alarmed about; in fact, it may be that students are more likely to seek help and college staff and faculty are more aware and supportive of helping the students in their mental health.

Wiebe says, “I don’t see a lot of evidence of mental health issues in the general public increasing. I don’t think the report suggests there are more mental health disorders. But, there is more awareness.”

“There is less stigma to self-identify,” explains Wiebe. “There are fantastic initiatives to educate people early.”

To read the entire article, please click here.

Also see:

College students exhibiting more severe mental illness, study finds

Mental Health Services and Choosing a College: Striking a Balance (NAMI)

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