All college students experience at least some stress during their college career. Most students get stressed while learning how to juggle personal responsibilities with coursework, for example, and as final exams approach. But stress levels for certain college students can soar during such times, and without resources to cope or get help, they become at risk for a variety of physical and emotional side effects. Their academic performance may suffer as well and, if it goes on long enough, they may decide to leave school.
How rampant is this problem? The Chronicle of Higher Education calls anxiety and depression among college students an "epidemic of anguish," and Psychology Today claims that American college students are facing a mental health crisis.1 College students everywhere report feeling frequently overwhelmed and anxious.
Not all college stress levels are a matter of serious concern, of course, but by providing a wide range of resources to support your students, career colleges can help them stay mentally and physically healthy and, subsequently, achieve greater academic success.
Offer a Counseling Center
Campus counseling centers provide support for students experiencing stress and other mental health challenges. While employing an onsite psychiatrist is likely not feasible, you can offer a centralized place for group counseling and workshops that provide coping strategies, stress management techniques and peer support. Make sure to maintain a list of local, affordable counselors to whom you can refer students.
Create Awareness Early On
Don't wait until right before final exams to reach out to students about stress management. Promote self-care and healthy stress management at the beginning of each start period. Make sure new students know about all of the resources available to them. Help students manage their stress at the onset, and they'll be better prepared to handle stressful times like finals week or graduation.
Provide Online Resources
Provide wellness information and support online. You can curate user-friendly websites and podcasts about stress management, link to videos demonstrating exercises that relieve stress, and provide basic how-to's about meditation and yoga for stress relief.
Consider creating a social media campaign centered around finals week survival tips. Use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to promote the importance of proper sleep, a healthy diet and exercise. Social media also enables students to reach out to one another for help while maintaining a comfortable level of distance.
Incorporate Social Activities
For students whose emotional health responds to more social stress-relieving solutions, plan some fun events on-or-off campus. Ideas include:
Throw a "stress recess" or "cram jam" where students can take their minds off school and enjoy food and music
Invite students to stress-free zones where they can get together to do yoga, paint, sing karaoke or listen to a guided meditation
Help them let loose by organizing a dog social through a local animal shelter
Positive outlets such as these can help overcome feelings of discouragement or self-pity and help students manage their stress levels.
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