Faculty Spotlight: Anxiety

Anxiety is one of the primary reasons undergraduates visit college counseling centers. In 2017, the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors reported that 51% of students receiving services from college counseling center reported having anxiety.1 While other mental health problems, such as depression and substance use, have been the focus of targeted interventions on college campuses, the number of students experiencing anxiety has steadily increased over the years. Anxiety has now overtaken depression and other interpersonal and mental health problems among college students, becoming a primary focus of college counseling centers.1

What does anxiety look like among undergraduates? Often, we think of anxiety as excessive worry, which is right – but anxiety also manifests in other ways. Anxiety can include changes in sleep (sleeping more or sleeping less), feeling easily fatigued, irritability, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, and muscle tension. Sometimes individuals with anxiety also find themselves experiencing headaches and stomachaches. While the number one sign of anxiety is generally excessive worry – it can be difficult to catch this among students unless you are able to verbally check-in.

Check out this video on how college students experience anxiety and hear what they have to say:

How can we help college students with anxiety? Stay informed! Keeping up-to-date with the prevalence of mental health trends among college students is helpful. Likewise, knowing the difference between similar issues, like stress and anxiety, can be helpful. Being an active listener and observant in interactions with students can be informative and can help you flag for irregular behavior. Finally, be able to pass on information about SPU’s Counseling Center and the 24-hour Crisis Line ((206) 461-3222) to students who may need additional support!

1Reetz, D. R., Bershad, C., LeViness, P., & Whitlock, M. (2017). The 2016 Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors Annual Survey. CO: AUCCCD.

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