• Miller Kern

Stress and anxiety are leading mental health problems among college students

College students are susceptible to stress. Balancing work, classes and a social life can take its toll on a person’s mental health. This stress especially ramps up during finals week.

According to the Associated Press, 20 percent of college students say they feel stressed “most of the time.”

There are many different ways college students handle their stress. On Ball State University’s campus, the College of Communication, Information, and Media offers relief in the form of its event Dogs and Donuts. This semester, the event took place on April 25 at 5 p.m. on the Johnson Hall patio.

To see more posts from Dogs and Donuts, click here.

This is an effective stress reliever, says Frances Coolman, a Ball State graduate with a degree in psychology.

“Animals such as dogs and horses are extremely receptive to human emotions,” Coolman said. “They are able to pick up when humans are sad or down and many become calm and relaxed to help comfort the humans around them.”

This, as Coolman explains, is why so many people have emotional support animals. It is also why people, such as those in the College of Communication, Information, and Media, use animals as an outlet for stress relief.

“Of course it’s not for everyone,” Coolman said, “but it can be very beneficial to many people.”

Some factors that induce stress in college students include living away from home, academic demands, finances and post-graduate plans, according to Learn Psychology, an educational outlet that provides resources to mental health professionals.

Unfamiliar environments can cause distress for a young person as they get used to being on their own for what is most likely the first time. This stressor typically plagues students in the first few weeks or months of college as they learn to adapt.

The most common long-term causes of stress for college students are academic demands and test anxiety. Doing poorly on a test or assignment or feeling pressured to do well can lead to stress in students. For some, college is the first time they are being challenged academically, and this can come as a jarring change.

Another first for many college students is being financially independent. Having to figure out how to manage money for oneself can cause stress and anxiety, especially if the person has no prior experience in handling money.

A stress that looms over students throughout their time in college is what they’re going to do when they leave. This type of stressor is especially prevalent in those students who are about to graduate. Figuring out life after college can come with a lot of unknowns that could incite stress or anxiety.

Taylor Riley, a junior education major at Ball State, has a stress outlet. She goes running and works out to clear her head.

“It refreshes me,” Riley said.

Sometimes she takes her dog, River, on runs with her. This gives her the outlet of running and the comfort of animal therapy.

Stress, though it may feel all-consuming at times, is manageable. People just need to figure out what stress relief works for them.

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