Student stressors cause academic, health problems

Murray State students are feeling the pressure.

According to the National College Health Assessment, stress is the No. 1 factor affecting students’ overall mental health.

According to the 2010 survey, 88.6 percent of students who participated said they feel overwhelmed from the stress of school.

The data collected showed 46 percent of students said academics have been very traumatic or difficult to handle.

They reported receiving a lower grade on an exam or project, received a lower grade in a course or received an incomplete or dropped a course due to stress.

Among the other results, 42 percent of students said worrying about financial issues, such as how they are going to afford paying for school, contributed to their stress level.

Students reported feeling, exhausted, lonely, sad, depressed, anxious, angry and hopeless.

According to the survey, 6.2 percent of students who participated considered suicide because of the stress they felt from school, while 0.9 percent of students attempted suicide.

Judy Lyle, health educator and staff nurse for Health Services, said students are stressed because they do not know how to allocate their time properly.

“I think students come unprepared for college,” Lyle said. “They are not taught in high school or middle school how to study anymore.”

Anytime students allow other things to become more important than academic performance, they can get into trouble, she said.

Lyle said missing multiple classes can hurt students’ academic performance and add to their stress levels.

“As a college student, it is your right to do that,” she said. “But do you really want to miss a class when you have a test coming up?”

 

Long-term stress and anxiety can lead to more serious problems such as ulcers and cardiovascular disease, she said.

Lyle said time management is the most important way to reduce stress and improve mental health.

She said students should allow themselves enough time to study, eat, sleep and do other social activities such as exercising or hanging out with friends on a daily basis.

“Students need anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep every night,” Lyle said. “I know very few students who get that much.”

Taking time to socialize is just as important as studying every day in order to relieve stress, Lyle said.

Julie Wiseheart, sophomore from Campbellsburg, Ky., said she is already stressing out about how to maintain a high grade point average for next semester.

“Having to keep a minimum GPA for scholarships adds so much stress toward the end of the semester,” Wiseheart said. “Plus looking ahead, I’m already freaking out.”

Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, said there is a lot pressure on students to perform well academically.

He said administrators try to send information to faculty and staff periodically so they can be aware of the signs of stress and know when to refer a student to get help from the resources on campus.

“We try to proactively prevent a student from feeling overwhelmed,” Robertson said.