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Anxiety on college campuses increasing, Counseling Services offers guidance

The pressure of being a full-time student, interning, working and trying to find time to eat and sleep has caused a growing number of students at Belmont to develop anxiety.

One in six college students have been either diagnosed or treated for an anxiety disorder, according to a national study of 100,000 students by the Center of Collegiate Mental Health.

That statistic shows on Belmont’s campus as well.

Three years ago, anxiety passed depression and became the No. 1 emotional and medical issue on campus, said Peg Leonard-Martin, the director of Counseling Services.

Originally, Counseling Services saw spikes in anxiety during midterms and finals. Now, it’s difficult to differentiate between those and any other times of the year because of how much anxiety has grown.

Students are overextended at Belmont, where they are juggling school courses, work, internships and music lessons, causing students to sleep less and be under more stress, said Leonard-Martin.

“We’ve always got to be doing instead of simply being,” said Leonard-Martin.

Counseling Services provides a space on campus where students can go and talk to trained professionals about how they feel. Counseling can provide one-on-one advice with a student to directly help their problems.

Though it may help, counseling is not for everyone. For those who don’t want to seek counseling, there are alternatives to help relieve the pressures.

Growth and Purpose for Students is one such program. GPS is designed to help students with their time management, study tips and plan for the future.

Counseling Services and the GPS program have been working together more in recent years, creating a relationship to help students with exactly what they need, whether that be study skills or help with their mental health, said Leonard-Martin.

The GPS program is designed to have staff members get to know students personally so each student can be helped in the way he or she needs most. The goal is to help students’ academic and time management skills so they can be less stressed, leading to less anxiety, said David Sneed, the director of GPS.

Physical activity can also help relieve stress. Health and fitness classes at the Beaman Student Center are able to help students with anxiety, with some of the most helpful classes including cardio and yoga, said Leonard-Martin.

Belmont is trying to make students aware of their options. For the last two years, members of the GPS program have spoken with incoming freshman and helping during orientation week.

The GPS program helped more than 1,100 students last year, Sneed said. They are looking to get the word out and help even more students this year.

This post was written by John Masserini.

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