the shape of leadership

Anxiety Tops List of Concerns for College Students

Stress numbers rise for seventh straight year.

Influence Magazine on May 3, 2017

As students across the nation prepare for finals, stress levels are high. But for some, anxiety is a serious, ongoing problem. In fact, anxiety and depression are the biggest mental health concerns for college students in the U.S., according to a survey by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors.

Just over half of students using campus counseling services during the 2015–2016 school year suffered from anxiety, making it the top issue students reported. In addition, 41 percent complained of depression symptoms, and 34 percent struggled with relationship problems. More than 20 percent had suicidal thoughts.

Christians are not immune to these challenges. 

Anxiety has topped the list of concerns in the annual poll for seven years in a row, and the percentage of students experiencing anxiety has increased each year — rising from 40 percent in 2010 to 51 percent last year.

The demand for mental health services on college campuses has also increased, prompting 42 percent of campuses to hire additional staff members during the 2015–2016 academic year.

Jennifer Gale, vice president of student life at the University of Valley Forge in Phoenixville, Pa., says anxiety is a concern on Christian campuses as well.

“Our counselors report that anxiety is the number one reason students seek counseling support on campus,” Gale says.

“Because Christians are not immune to these challenges, pastors and leaders do people a great service by encouraging them to get the support they need — spiritually, but also physically, socially, and mentally,” she says. “Here at the University of Valley Forge, we are preparing students for a life of service and leadership in the world. Part of life is learning how to get the resources you need when you need them. Mental and emotional health support are among those resources.”

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