Introduction: Stress is viewed as a psychological response to a threat that is perceived by an individual. In the United States, 7 out of 10 adults admit that at least once on a daily basis, they experience moderate level stress (Beiter et al., 2015). Many college students experience stress because of having to leave home and or even their state to different regions in pursuit of a higher education. The pressures of a new environment and high expectations placed upon the young people in college will further plunge them into stress and depression. Obtaining a college degree is increasingly being viewed as the major asset to a successful and profiting future. Emphasis on the vitality of a higher education as the only way to have a decent life in the future causes crippling bouts of stress that affect how young people study in college. Mental health problems that include stress among the youth in colleges is a factor that has been identified as a major concern that ought to be addressed with urgency, because when the mind is crippled, productivity is significantly lowered. Often, stress is overlooked and dismissed as part of life and yet its effects are far-reaching and should not be ignored. College students have a lot of insecurities and a desire to succeed and creating a balance between the two proves challenging to them. Studies have shown that the most common factors that cause stress among college students are pressure from parents to succeed, academic performance and fear of life after graduation from college (Beiter et al., 2015).
It is vital to decipher all the college stressors and determine how to curb them or cope while still working towards achieving academic goals. Discussion: The demanding academic work in college causes overwhelming stress. The primary reason for students going to college is to receive higher education but it often proves daunting to many young people. The students are required to do quizzes, examinations, term papers and projects that have deadlines that the students must beat. The pressure to complete all the assignments given and still maintain a relatively impressive GPA leads to mental disturbance and stress among the students since they are unable to cope with all the academic demands. A study showed that 5,857 students in college committed suicide in the year 2006 because of stress resulting from exams (Kumar & Bhukar, 2013). Peer pressure and a desire to fit in and be accepted by others often leads to stress. In college, young people often feel the need to make friends and gain acceptability by their peers. Social pressure to conform to behaviour that the student would deem wrong can result in stress. Consequently, young people often just feel the need to be part of a group in which they feel they belong but it is not easy to feel safe in every group of peers. Fear of being considered different by others and being left behind Causes College students to have mental disturbance in the form of stress and they ought to be taught how to cope with stressful situations in college (Conley, Travers & Bryant, 2013). Fear of an uncertain future after college induces stress in students. Every student who goes to college has the desire to pursue their career dreams after college. The fear of not making it or falling short of their expectations causes stress. No student would want to leave college and be a disappointment and this often causes stress since many students aspire to achieve their full potential after college. Consequently, students put pressure on themselves to achieve goals that may seem farfetched and fear of failure in the future causes stress. Girls in college are more prone to stress because of their perceived responsibilities after college and this causes higher levels of stress in women than males.
Women are twice as likely to experience stress compared to men (Conley, Travers & Bryant, 2013). The roles and social status of women causes them more stress than their male counterparts even at the college level do. The society sets standards that women are meant to live up to and this could lead to a feeling of unworthiness or self-doubt that eventually causes frustration and stress. College students leave behind their family and friends they get into college and this causes anxiety leading to stress. The transition to college poses a difficult time for students since they have to be independent and face academic challenges far from home as well. Students have reported loneliness and homesickness as a common stressor since they often fail to learn how to cope effectively in school away from family. At the college level, self-responsibility is required and for many students, they could be experiencing life away from home with the pressures of learning all by themselves for the first time. Financial constraints are a common stressor among college students. Paying college tuition can be quite expensive and when a student is unable to pay, stress is induced. College is a time when young people transition from adolescence to adulthood and often they need not only physical support but also financial empowerment so that all their basic needs are met (Beiter et al., 2015). Lack of adequate finances results in emotional instability that causes stress. Finances are also needed to buy food, clothes and pay bills. Students should be taught how to do simple part time jobs that can earn them money but still allow them time to study and concentrate on their academic work.
Lacking a balance between social life and academic work causes secondary challenges that cause stress in students. Many college students would love to socialize and make friends in a new environment so that they would not be lonely. Consequently, academic work can be overwhelming hence affecting socialization, which leads to loneliness and stress. Studies are important to students because it is the primary reason why individuals go to college but studying without any healthy breaks leads to mental exhaustion and stress. Stress among the youth is increasing significantly in the recent years as compared to the past years. According to Kumar & Bhukar (2013), a study done in India showed that, stress levels among the youth have risen from 2% to 12% over a period of the last 5 years. Consequently, globally, reports from Macmillan Social Sciences have revealed that 70% of all college students admit that there grades in college are directly affected by stress that prevents them from concentrating and achieving their full potential (Kumar & Bhukar, 2013). The study further revealed that 3 out of 5 visits to a doctor by the young people are stress related. Mental disturbance in the form of stress has become so prevalent in the youth that it should no longer be ignored or treated as part of the academic system. Many college students have maladaptive coping strategies to stress. According to Kumar & Bhukar (2013), several studies carried out in the United Kingdom among medical students showed that the college students turned to taking alcohol as a form of coping strategy for the stressful workload they had in college. Other students turn to the use of tobacco and other harmful drugs I a bid to drown their worries about their academic lives. Illegal substances that are very harmful to health are increasingly becoming popular among college students as most promise’ a relief from stress and enhancement of intellectual ability among the students. Only a few students use games, sports, and other physical activities to cope with stress in college. Stress among college students causes other problems that ultimately affect their studies.
Among the students under stress, 76% say that they have developed sleeping disorders that prevent them from getting enough rest that is much needed for effective learning in college. Stress further causes students to suffer persistent headaches with 58% of the college student population affected. Consequently, stress also causes individuals to become short-tempered and this affects 70% of the student population. One out of every 10-college students globally, suffers distress that is very significant and that warrants medical attention in order for the student to carry on with their studies (Kumar & Bhukar, 2013). Transfer students and those from culturally different backgrounds are most affected by stress in college. Going to college for all students warrants making adjustments to adapt in a completely new environment away from family. It is often harder for students who are from a different countries or cultural backgrounds since they not only have to study and keep their grades up but also need to adjust to a different lifestyle. Having to adapt to a new language or culture or different climate can induce stress in students who do not adapt quickly. The fear of not fitting in among new students is often also a cause of stress among the students. Students living off-campus experience higher levels of stress as compared to those living in campus. Staying off-campus comes with the responsibilities of paying rent, planning and preparing meals and the need to be up early to be in college on time. The responsibility of caring for oneself off-campus can prove to be a burden to many students and this would lead to stress. College is often a time when youth are away from family for the first time and the responsibility of baying bills and running errands while studying at the same time may be a foreign concept that plunges a student into stress.
Sophomore and freshman year is the most challenging and stressful time for students in college (Conley, Travers & Bryant, 2013). Transitioning from a life at home where parents take care of all the responsibilities of daily living-to-living alone and adjusting to life in a new environment is challenging. Being acquainted with new people in a new environment and adjusting to timetables and schedules that must be followed strictly is difficult for many youth as they get into college. First year is also the time when the college student lays a foundation for their studies in college and the pressure not to make mistakes causes stress among the students. Body image and self-esteem are common causes of stress among college students. In college, there is pressure to stand out and this could cause students to feel that they are not good enough in terms of physical appearance hence leading to stress. The pressure to have a perfect body’ causes low self-esteem that causes students to be withdrawn with the fear of not being accepted as good enough by their peers and this is stressful for many college students.
Many college students do not seek mental health services to help them deal with stress. Only 10% of students in college receive mental health services available in the institutions (Conley, Travers & Bryant, 2013). Mental health services can be in many forms and they are instigated by the college institution to help students cope with the pressures of college. Studies have, however, shown that many students do not seek help when experiencing stress because either they view stress as part of academic life or they may feel it is a sign of weakness and admitting that life is difficult. Some students do not seek help because of cultural or social reasons. Failing to seek help for stress leads to depression, which causes a student to be withdrawn and lack concentration in their studies. College administration should encourage students to make use of mental health services available in the college setting. Students ought to be informed that it is normal to experience stress in a new environment and especially one that could potentially determine success in their future. The institutions should however provide mental health services as an individual based treatment model and group or classroom-based preventive interventions. Preventive services should also be offered and students can be taught to have positivity even in the face of adversity and turn stressful situations into success.
Colleges should implement a system that routinely assesses the mental health status of students to manage stress effectively. It is vital for the college to determine the levels of stress among its students and this will lead to the identification of common causes or triggers of stress (Beiter et al., 2015). It is only through regular mental health assessments that the college would implement improved counselling and support centres to assist students in dealing with stress. College institutions often evaluate drug and substance abuse and the performance of professors and this should be the case too for mental health status. Taking an active role in the mental status of students to help them avoid maladaptive behaviour like abuse of drugs is vital in reducing the psychological suffering that is experienced by college students. Students can experience stress without realizing that they have a mental disturbance. It is common for college students to have stress but not identify it. Common ways in which stress presents itself is through irregular sleep patterns, inability to control emotions, poor performance in academic activities, and having unhealthy relationships. Stress among college students can be overcome or managed effectively and the students should be encouraged to verbalize their struggles in college that ultimately cause stress. College students should be taught how to identify stress and this will help them in seeking help early enough before they experience complications adjusting back to the required routine in school (Beiter et al., 2015).
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