Stressed-out students can find relief

Are you feeling overwhelmed? Are midterms stressing you out? Do late night study sessions leave you feeling restless and worried?
If you answered “yes� to any of the questions above, then Thursday, March 15, can give you the boost you need to get rid of those blues.

Known nationally as College Anxiety Screening Day, colleges all over the United States will be taking part. The event is put on by Freedom From Fear, a nonprofit organization that helps people suffering from anxiety and depression.

Fresno State has been holding the screenings for the past eight years. It has been a success with 60 to 100 students participating each year, Dr. Christine Edmondson, clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychology at Fresno State, said.

With midterms right around the corner, Edmondson said right now is a good time for students to get screened because it is a stressful time for students who spend many late nights studying.

“The screening raises awareness about anxiety,� Edmondson said. “It gives students permission to admit they’re stressed and shows them that there is support available through University Health and Psychological Services.�

Anxiety is a health problem that affects at least 19 million people in the United States from ages 18 to 54, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

“As a community, we benefit by seeing how stress affects us,� Edmondson said. “Understanding anxiety makes us understand the mental health of people around us.�

Those who participate can expect the screening to last about an hour. First, participants will complete a brief questionnaire about their stress and anxiety, watch an informational video about anxiety disorders and then meet individually with a counselor to discuss their answers on the questionnaire.

All answers on the questionnaire will be anonymous and meetings with the counselors will be strictly confidential.

If scores are high, then the counselors on hand will encourage the student to come back to determine if it is stress that is plaguing them or if it is indeed an anxiety disorder, Edmondson said.

An anxiety disorder is when negative feelings take control. For example, not wanting to take a class because of fear that oral presentations are required. “You’re scared of a threat that’s not real,� Edmondson said. “You say to yourself, ‘I’m afraid of this, so I can’t do it.’ It is when fear is so awful, it gets you in trouble.�

But anxiety in general is not as serious. In fact, it can be a good thing in some situations. “It can be very helpful because it prepares for challenges, such as speaking in front of the class. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing.�

The screenings will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Area E of the University Health and Psychological Services. It is free to all students, faculty, staff and the general public.

Many common causes of stress include academics, work, family problems, financial obligations and problems in relationships with friends and significant others, Edmondson said.

Of course, being a college student is a challenge in itself, but not one that has to be taken negatively.

“Being a college student is a stressful time in anyone’s life,� Edmondson said. “It is a time filled with many opportunities. Students should see stress as a challenge rather than something that beats them down.�

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