One of our readers recently posted a poignant comment after reading “Stress Tends to Spill” last week in which she stated that “students should strongly consider seeking out their counseling center on campus. They don’t need to be going through a crisis before they seek this help; they can just go to have someone to talk with.” Here at Spill, we couldn’t agree with her more. In fact, most therapists and counselors would agree that no problem is too small for a visit to see a counselor. And yet, we have found that a huge chunk of student spillers feel as though their problem wasn’t serious enough to visit the counseling center. There is still a huge stigma around mental health issues, and college students are not immune to that stigma.
Stigma can come in many forms, not the least of which is most damaging is when it creates self doubt or shame. This can be shame around one’s feelings, or around admitting to what we’re struggling with, and it can also mean shame around asking for help. But it doesn’t have to!
With St. Patrick’s Day behind us, any foreign visitor on a college campus might think that college life revolves around drinking. Green Beer, drinking games, and alcohol-induced bravado seemed to dominate this past weekend. However, many college students choose not to participate in the drinking culture that is synonymous with higher education these days.
In fact, Student Spill had a number of students this year who anonymously vented about their frustration with the role alcohol played in their lives. It may seem that the majority of college student shrink with abandon, but when they are anonymously venting, another story emerges.
The images of drinking and the college experience as intertwined are everywhere: movies like Beerfest and Old School have little value other than the drinking games they teach. It is easy to think that college life is all about the drinking and this image can be overwhelming to students who feel this may not be right for them.
I’m not here to preach about avoiding underage drinking, but I’d be a fool to pretend all college students are binge drinkers. College campuses all have their own culture, and within those campuses each student is part of a network that has its own social culture as well.
Have you ever noticed that when one aspect of your life becomes stressful, other things follow suit? Maybe finals are coming up, and you had an argument with your significant other. Then you find out that a bunch of your friends are going abroad in a different semester than you, so you start to feel lonely. It could be any combination of things, but sometimes it feels like stress breeds stress, and next thing you know, your stress has spilled over into many facets of your life…
Or so it might seem. Because then one thing lifts, and then another…and then something really positive and great happens, and then another. And before you know it, you’re on an upswing. So bear in mind that for every rough hour, day, week or more when it feels like things are never going to get better, joy may be just around the corner.
In the meantime, here are some things you can do to manage your stress better in the moment:
A voice of non judgment
If you’re anything like us over here at Spill, you can appreciate hearing a voice with no judgment now again. That’s pretty much what we’re here for. My name is Meredith, and I’m a licensed social worker. I’m also the director of outreach here at Spill. Together, as a Spill team, we form the voice of non judgment that’s here to provide you with insight, resources, and awareness to the UPS and downs of college life.
“A 2010 AP survey conducted by The Jed Foundation and MTV found that 50% of college students have been so stressed they could not get work done during the prior year and that 13% of students have a friend who attempted suicide during the last 12 months,” cites John McPhee of The Jed Foundation. Those are some harsh statistics, and ones that any college student will be affected by at some point, be it through a friend or acquaintance, or one’s own personal experience. While we are not here to solve these issues, we are here to be another resource for the greater college community.