By Lyndi-Colleen Morgan
Recent studies show students in post-secondary school have been experiencing increased stress and anxiety over the last several years.
The National College Health Assessment found 58.5 per cent of the 16,000 Ontario students surveyed experienced higher than average stress, in a 2013 study. Oxford Dictionaries defines stress as the mental strain or tension placed on an individual resulting from demanding circumstances which can cause adverse effects on a person’s body.
The NCHA reported 40 per cent of students said stress was affecting their ability to achieve academically. Don Crowder is a counsellor at St. Clair College’s downtown campus. He said certain life events or experiences can trigger stress. These triggers then determine how individuals react to the stress. He said stress is not always debilitating to an individual’s education.
“Stress has a full range of effects on people psychologically, emotionally and physically. It’s unique to each individual,” said Crowder. “It can be translated into a negative or a positive event. Sometimes stress as we know it can in fact be a very motivating, positive thing depending on the outcomes we (students) are looking for.”
He also said students often look for a permanent solution to their stress but stress cannot be cured, only managed.
“The school has a lot of services available for the students who need to use them, whether it be tutoring, counseling or the other services offered. Students like myself can use them at anytime,” said Claire Renaud,19, a student at St. Clair College.
Renaud is a full-time student studying gerontology social work, a baseball player for the college and works at the St. Clair Residence and Conference Centre as an advisor to students. She said she spends 80 hours a week fitting all of these activities into her schedule while trying to get all of her work done.
Renaud said she experiences constant stress which peaks during finals for her classes.
“Even though I procrastinate sometimes and leave my work until the last minute the stress motivates me to get it done,” she said.
She also said she often keeps it to herself when she is experiencing more than average stress. Sometimes the stress can affect her physically.
Renaud said she has taken advantage of the counseling offered to her by the school and if she needed to again, she would.
Rodney Boodram, 19, is a first-year student at the University of Windsor and is studying criminology and psychology. He is also on the university’s football team. Boodram said he experiences stress frequently when trying to fit “work and play” into his schedule.
“What stresses me out is that I made a commitment to the football team and I want to show them that I want to be there… but then it takes away some of the time I have scheduled for classes and homework, and then I struggle to catch up,” said Boodram.
Boodram said there are services similar to those of St. Clair College available at the university. He also said first-year students on the football team are provided with help in their classes by tutors arranged by their coaches.
“There are hotlines and counselors for students to talk to at all hours of the day. During midterms and exams my coach gives us breaks because he understands, yes that we are playing football but we are also students,” said Boodram. “On Mondays our coach provides us with workshops to show us how to manage our time for studying and how to take notes in university and Fridays is a study hall so all first-year football students can get help on assignments and studying.”
Crowder said counselling programs and supports are offered in schools to benefit the students and help them with issues like stress and anxiety. He said sometimes the best help councillors can offer students is to be someone to listen and bounce ideas off.
“Sometimes you just need someone to talk to that’s not going to judge you…that’s not going to add to the anxiety and the stress. Sometimes you just need someone who’s going to listen and then help you to work out a solution,” said Crowder.