Anxiety has now surpassed depression as the most common mental health diagnosis among college students, though depression, too, is on the rise. More than half of students visiting campus clinics cite anxiety as a health concern, according to a recent study of more than 100,000 students nationwide by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State.Nearly one in six college students has been diagnosed with or treated for anxiety within the last 12 months, according to the annual national survey by the American College Health Association.
The causes range widely, experts say, from mounting academic pressure at earlier ages to overprotective parents to compulsive engagement with social media. Anxiety has always played a role in the developmental drama of a student’s life, but now more students experience anxiety so intense and overwhelming that they are seeking professional counseling.As students finish a college year during which these cases continued to spike, the consensus among therapists is that treating anxiety has become an enormous challenge for campus mental health centers.
And guess where all that anxiety starts?
Anxiety has become emblematic of the current generation of college students, said Dan Jones, the director of counseling and psychological services at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C.Because of escalating pressures during high school, he and other experts say, students arrive at college preloaded with stress. Accustomed to extreme parental oversight, many seem unable to steer themselves. And with parents so accessible, students have had less incentive to develop life skills.“A lot are coming to school who don’t have the resilience of previous generations,” Dr. Jones said. “They can’t tolerate discomfort or having to struggle. A primary symptom is worrying, and they don’t have the ability to soothe themselves.”
Oh - and guess what exacerbates the problem?
Social media is a gnawing, roiling constant. As students see posts about everyone else’s fabulous experiences, the inevitable comparisons erode their self-esteem. The popular term is “FOMO” — fear of missing out.
You know what would be a great way to solve this growing problem?
Ratcheting up the level of anxiety at school with some new "tough" standards and new "tough" tests tied to those estandards.
You know what would be even better?
Force teachers to use rubrics for every assignment so that students always know what the expectations are and they never ever have to live with any uncertainty.
And you know what would make for the hat trick?
Stick the kids in front of computers all day for some "personalized learning" so that their interactions with their fellow human beings, both peers and adults, are as minimal as possible.
Education reform, helicopter parenting and technology - wrecking an entire generation.