Thursday, January 27, 2011

College freshman report record levels of stress

That's the finding of a new study discussed in this New York Times article.  There's a caveat, though.  The survey asked students to describe their mental health relative to their peers and that might lead some respondents to overstate their problems.  Other findings from the study include many students reporting that they are worried about the economy and whether they will enjoy a better lifestyle than their parents.  Women also report more psychological distress than men.

In the survey, 'The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2010,' involving more than 200,000 incoming full-time students at four-year colleges, the percentage of students rating themselves as 'below average' in emotional health rose. Meanwhile, the percentage of students who said their emotional health was above average fell to 52 percent. It was 64 percent in 1985.

Every year, women had a less positive view of their emotional health than men, and that gap has widened.

. . . .

The annual survey of freshmen is considered the most comprehensive because of its size and longevity. At the same time, the question asking students to rate their own emotional health compared with that of others is hard to assess, since it requires them to come up with their own definition of emotional health, and to make judgments of how they compare with their peers.

'Most people probably think emotional health means, ‘Am I happy most of the time, and do I feel good about myself?’ so it probably correlates with mental health,' said Dr. Mark Reed, the psychiatrist who directs Dartmouth College’s counseling office.

“I don’t think students have an accurate sense of other people’s mental health,” he added. “There’s a lot of pressure to put on a perfect face, and people often think they’re the only ones having trouble.”

You can read the rest here.


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