Anxiety Riding High Among College Students

If you're planning to start or return to college in the fall, summer is an excellent time to try some self-soothing techniques that might come in handy when back-to-school time rolls around.

Anxiety has surpassed depression as the most prevalent mental health issue among college students, according to organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI on Campus) the Higher Education Mental Health Alliance (HEMHA) and the American College Health Association (ACHA).

Mounting academic pressure, financial concerns, compulsive interaction with social media, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and a lack of self-soothing skills are some of the factors that have contributed to an increase in mental health issues (particularly anxiety) among college students.

Symptoms might be mild and resolve on their own, such as experiencing jittery or queasy feelings before tests and social events. Symptoms that don't resolve can get worse, leading to insomnia, social isolation and physical complaints. Some students experience severe anxiety, including panic attacks and an inability to carry out simple tasks, leading to missed classes and failed courses.

If you are experiencing anxiety while in college, you are not alone. In a 2011 study by the ACHA, more than 50 percent of college students reported having overwhelming anxiety that made it hard to succeed academically. More than half of students who left college, due to mental health issues, did not seek help or support services and the number one reason all students gave for not seeking help with mental health issues was fear of the stigma associated with mental illness.

The availability of mental health services on college campuses varies from one college to another. In some cases, students must seek out help and in others, student mental health services are readily available. The important thing, experts say, is for each student to assess his or her circumstances and determine which support groups and self-help techniques would be beneficial and whether there is a need for professional help.

ULifeline provides a phone number, 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for students who are experiencing anxiety, or any mental health crisis, and need to talk to someone, and a website that provides resources for self-evaluation.

Dr. Andrew Weil offers simple suggestions for dealing with anxiety in Seven Simple Ways to Address Anxiety Now.

Guided imagery can help students de-stress, sleep better, acquire self-soothing skills and ease the tension associated with exams and presentations. To learn more, read Belleruth's blog post For College Students with Test Anxiety, and Guided Imagery Helps College Students with Anxiety.

To see Health Journeys' guided imagery for anxiety go to our Online Store.

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As always, we love hearing from you and welcome your questions and comments. Here's to a lovely, serene summer from your friends at Health Journeys.