What College Students Struggle with Most (and what you can do to help)
When you’re struggling with self-management, every day can feel like an uphill b...
Feb 06, 2018
Editor's note: This week, we feature guest blogger Marcia Morris, M.D., a psychiatrist with 20 years of experience working with college students. Please see her full bio below.
If your child is not doing well at college, there could be many reasons why – poor organization, too much partying, challenges with time management – to mention just a few. But did you know that one of the most common causes of poor academic performance is anxiety? In fact, students rated stress and anxiety as the top problems negatively impacting academic performance, according to a 2017 survey by the American College Health Association.
As you help your college student identify the source of their academic problems, be sure to ask questions such as these about anxiety:
As a psychiatrist working with college students for over twenty years, I have witnessed the personal toll of record high levels of anxiety on college campuses today. In the last year, one out of five college students have been diagnosed with or treated for an anxiety disorder and almost two of three at some point felt overwhelming anxiety. Students can get into a vicious cycle where academic stress can lead to anxiety, which can cause poor academic performance, leading to more academic stress and anxiety. The good news is that many colleges have recognized the need to address this problem and have offered resources to help.
If you think your college student is experiencing overwhelming anxiety, consider taking the following steps:
As parents, watching your child deal with anxiety can feel disheartening, but know that support is available. I’ve seen many students overcome extreme levels of anxiety and go on to lead happy, healthy, and successful lives. Hyperfocusing on academics only increases anxiety, so encourage your child to go beyond the classroom and library to find enriching experiences on campus: tutor a child in science at a local elementary school; participate in a softball game to raise money for a meaningful cause; row intramural crew. Enjoy the journey of self-discovery and social connection that college can provide, while finding ways to manage anxiety for now and into the future.
Marcia Morris, M.D. is a psychiatrist who has provided care to university students for over twenty years. She is the author of The Campus Cure: A Parent’s Guide to Mental Health and Wellness for College Students. She writes a parenting blog for Psychology Today on College Wellness. Dr. Morris is an Associate Professor at the University of Florida College of Medicine and Associate Program Director for Student Health Psychiatry. A Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Dr. Morris attended Harvard College, Yale School of Medicine, and the New York Hospital Cornell Medical Center psychiatry residency program.
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