February is anxious time for students

By Emily Hiltz

Anxiety in university students could be increasing due to higher demands they feel (Emily Hiltz photo).

This February, Dalhousie and King’s are two of the many universities across Canada taking part in Psychology Month, which involves promoting the connection between psychologists and students.

Dr. David Mesnick, a psychologist at the Dalhousie Counselling Services, is happy to promote the services provided by Dal, not just in February, but year round. He says the importance lies in raising awareness of anxiety among students.

Mesnick assists people who need relationship counselling, as well as people who struggle with eating disorders and anxiety. He believes that although we do know more about anxiety than we did 10 years ago, there may be additional factors to the anxiety that university students feel.

“This is hypothetical. I don’t have any statistics on it, but I think the demands (felt by students) are increasing due to the information age,” Mesnick said in an interview on Friday. “We know today, though we’re sitting here in Halifax, what’s happening in Syria.”

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Nick Hatt, Dean of Residence at the University of King’s College, is no stranger to the anxiety that university students experience. During February, Hatt sees between eight and 10 students a week who are struggling with anxiety.

“Students have been home, it’s halfway through the year, and they’ve got their first term marks back and sometimes they haven’t done as well as they would have liked,” Hatt explained.

Hatt also believes that the first and fourth years are the most stressful for students, as they are times of great transition. Elizabeth Yeo, registrar at King’s, agrees.

“I think the first year is a transitional year,” said Yeo. “Anytime there is a transition, it’s stressful.”

Yeo believes that the majority of the adjustment students deal with involves moving away from family, friends, and home.

Mesnick discusses anxiety among students.
[audio:http://peninsula-news.kingsjournalism.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/psychologymonth.mp3|titles=psychologymonth]

As far as keeping anxiety to a minimum, Mesnick advises students to meditate and get enough sleep. However, if those simple tips aren’t enough, he says that the best thing to do is see a professional.