College Anxiety Guide
Published November 29th, 2018

College students can easily feel anxious trying to juggle school, work, friends, parties and family on top of trying to figure out this thing called life.

According to data compiled by the National Institute of Mental Health, roughly 32% of adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 have an anxiety disorder. For adolescents with anxiety disorders, transitioning to college presents an additional level of challenges. For a student with social anxiety making new friends and joining clubs can be difficult. For a student with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), sharing a small space with a random roommate is beyond challenging. A student with generalized anxiety is forced to cope with new routines, new professors, new expectations, and new friendships without the proper supports in place to work through these challenges all at once.

Anxiety on college campuses is stunning. Over the past five years, anxiety has become the #1 reason college students are seeking counseling. 

When to Seek Help

While self-help coping strategies for anxiety can be effective, if your stress, fears, or anxiety attacks have impacted your life that they’re causing extreme distress or disrupting your daily school routine, it’s important to seek professional help. 

Where to Seek Help

Almost every university has counseling visits looped into your tuition. Unfortunately, some campus counseling centers do have waiting lists. While waiting for services, or if your school doesn’t have a counseling center, get a referral for a therapist in the community or speak with an approachable professor, career counselor or resident assistant. Also, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (800) 273-TALK, which isn’t just a crisis line; students can get advice and have someone to talk to. 

Although the internet will never replace an evaluation with a therapist or treatment, reputable sites can serve as good sources of information in the meantime.

  • Healthy Minds, provided by the American Psychiatric Association, has information on mental health, including prevention, symptoms and treatment and tips for students and parents.
  • ULifeline offers a screening tool, developed by the Duke University Medical Center, and contact information for university counseling centers.
  • Half of Us features inspirational interviews with artists and athletes along with information on mental health. You can also access the screening tool here.
  • The Jed Foundation provides resources and research on mental health and suicide prevention for parents, students and colleges.
  • Campus Calm gives high school and college students the tools to combat stress.

LGBTQ+ Youth Are Not Alone

LGBTQ+ youth are at an even greater risk of social isolation and depression. Online resources have become increasingly more important for LGBTQ+ youth to maintain their mental and emotional health. 

  • ISP compiled a great list of online, educational, and community resources

At-Home Coping Methods

  • Meditation apps and mental health apps
  • Daily exercise
  • Sleep
  • Journaling
  • Therapy
  • Reading
  • Deep breathing
  • Breaking down tasks into manageable pieces
  • Establish a weekly check-in with a parent and/or sibling
  • Use self-talk to reframe anxious thoughts
  • Walking
  • Listen to classical music

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