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How to Help College Students Leave Anxiety Behind

Front view portrait of a sad student walking in the street holding folders outdoors in a park

Parents and administrators can promote a students’ well-being by learning the signs of anxiety and depression early on, as well as how to intervene effectively. For most students, college is a time of excitement and new adventures. However, it can also prove to be overwhelming and stressful. As a result, physicians diagnose a significant number of college students with anxiety and depression. By understanding the signs of poor emotional health, you can make sure that your kids don’t head back to school with problems they’re not equipped to handle.

A Few Facts About College Students and Anxiety

Over 18 million students attended college in 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. A study revealed that 70% of those students experienced overwhelming anxiety during the school year. The study also showed that 30% of them experienced overwhelming anxiety in the two weeks before the survey. It’s understandable why anxiety and other emotional problems affect college students. A flurry of activity is not unusual during this time of their life. They must manage a heavy course load, and many also participate in extracurricular activities while holding part or full-time jobs.

This phase of students’ life represents a significant transition. During the transition to adulthood, increased pressure in the form of added responsibilities can make students more vulnerable to emotional disorders. The combination of academic, work and personal responsibilities combined can significantly contribute to additional stress. It’s normal for students to experience negative emotions such as sadness or anxiousness occasionally. However, when these emotions persist, they can affect every aspect of a student’s life adversely.

Know the Signs of Anxiety

When your children are at home, take a proactive role in monitoring their emotional health. More than likely, you know the quirks of your child. However, it’s helpful for your kids to understand the warning signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression. One way to approach the topic is to discuss common signs of anxiety as well as circumstances that trigger stress in your child. For example, a change in eating or sleeping or a sudden onset of various aches and pains can indicate anxiety.

You and your child should also remain wary of signs of excessive avoidance or procrastination. Also, if your child isolates themselves from others or experiences increased feelings of frustration and anger, they may be exhibiting symptoms of anxiety.

Finally, a major red flag is if your child uses alcohol, drugs or technology to escape feeling overwhelmed while avoiding the company of others.

The things that you teach your child about monitoring their emotional health and well-being will stay with them throughout the school year. By teaching your child about self-care at home, you will prepare them for the demands of college. It’s also helpful if you find out about emotional health resources on or near a college campus. Across the United States, there is a range of available mental health services, including telephone hotlines, online chats, and face-to-face counseling.

Lastly, if a physician has diagnosed your child with an emotional health issue while they’re at home, encourage them to continue treatment during the school year.

Helping Students in Need

Conditions such as depression affects more than 3 million people around the globe. It’s not uncommon for college students to struggle with fulfilling their responsibilities as they attempt to deal with symptoms of anxiety and depression. However, you can make a difference. Encourage your child not to avoid their emotional health problems by staying in bed all day or skipping class. Avoidance can worsen symptoms of anxiety and depression. Instead, urge them to take small steps to deal with stressors. For example, if they’re having problems with a class, coax them into emailing a professor to request tutoring.

When students are experiencing problems with their emotional health, they often neglect their physical health. Also, a student who’s experiencing anxiety might exhibit poor dietary or sleep habits. However, restful sleep and a healthy diet are especially beneficial in helping students maintain their emotional health. In addition, encourage your child to stay away from caffeine and alcohol if they’re experiencing anxiety. Both beverages can interfere with restful sleep.

Parents should compel school administrators to increase awareness about stress and anxiety among college students if such mechanisms aren’t already in place on campus. College students need to understand that anxiety is common and treatable. Parents and administrators must work together to destigmatize the topic of mental health. Together, they can eliminate the barriers that prevent many individuals from seeking help that can empower them to move forward in life successfully.

For more great tips for students, check out the other blogs on College Basics.