Today’s college students, also known as Generation Z, are the most diverse and well-educated demographic cohort we’ve seen yet, according to the Pew Research Center. Some of their values include freedom of expression, authenticity, and the efficacy of dialogue to solve conflicts and improve the world.
However, Gen-Z’ers are also up against many challenges. According to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America report, today’s college students report a higher rate of mental health issues than any other generation. In 2018, the American College Health Association found that 63 percent of surveyed undergraduate students felt “overwhelming anxiety” in the previous year and more than 40 percent felt so depressed that it was difficult to function.
At Meredith, there are a number of resources and programs in place to help students combat mental health issues and cope with them in a healthy, productive way. And more students than ever are beginning to seek help and take advantage of these resources.
“Part of resilience is being able to be vulnerable and ask for what you need and use those resources to really thrive,” said Beth Meier, counseling center director. “That’s a tough thing.”
Here are just a few things we’re doing at Meredith to help students learn to manage stress, cope with challenges, and build resilience:
The Student Counseling Center offers free one-on-one sessions with licensed professionals that are confidential and short-term in nature. Even the waiting room has several relaxing features including coloring pages, Play-Doh, soothing music, a water feature, and a tabletop “zen garden” with sand to rake.
The Relaxation Room is a quiet place in the Student Counseling Center where students can engage their senses, helping them to focus the mind and calm the central nervous system. The room has yoga and meditation DVDs, yoga mats, essential oils, coloring pages, weighted blankets, a light therapy lamp, and a variety of comfortable seating options for reading, napping, or relaxing.
Students can see a counselor during our drop in Problem-Solving Hour for a variety of counseling and disability issues, including requesting stress management techniques. The hour includes a one-on-one, 15 minute session with a counselor, no appointment necessary.
Koru Mindfulness is an evidence-based curriculum designed for emerging adults who are seeking better ways to manage stress, but more importantly, enhance their lives and develop the wisdom that will guide them as they make important life decisions. It’s a four-week series sponsored by the Student Health Center that is also offered as a physical education course.
The Student Health Center and Director of Health Services partners with the campus’ peer educators, known as PEARLS (short for Peer Educators Advocating Responsible Lifestyles) throughout the semester to distribute stress-busting materials and lead health and wellness initiatives for students on a weekly basis.
College is stressful and so is adjusting to a completely new environment. Therapy dogs can bring a smile and a sense of calmness to students dealing with stress, anxiety, and loneliness. Meredith College has provided a variety of opportunities for students to engage with therapy dogs, particularly during stressful times of the semester.
Exercise is vital in maintaining health and wellness and can also help to relieve stress. The Exercise and Sports Science (ESS) program sponsors a workout program for students free of charge. The student-led classes include yoga, barre, strength training, and more.
Learning to build resilience helps students have an enjoyable, productive, and successful college experience. At Meredith, we offer a wide range of support in addition to these unique resources to help students deal with the hardships they will inevitably face as they transition to college. Some of these resources include academic planning, career planning, student advising, and more. Schedule a visit today and experience the uniquely supportive community that will help you make the most of college.