15 April 2021
The College Student and Anxiety: A Relationship
Mental health is a serious issue pervading through a significant portion of the United States population. In fact, one third of people in the U.S. struggle not just with mental health, but with one mental health disorder in particular: anxiety. The overwhelming prevalence of anxiety makes this mental health issue an important topic for exploration and discussion. The writer has dealt with mental health issues his entire life and struggles to find the purpose anxiety can serve in school and it is his inclination that anxiety can actually be an efficient motivator on students rather than a crippling productivity killer.
Anxiety is a mental health issue that needs more attention. The consequences of leaving the issue unaddressed could be critical. According to Andrea Elmid and her team in "Depressive symptoms, anxiety, and academic motivation in youth: Do schools and families make a difference?", families and home life have a massive effect on the success of students. Mental health is a problem that is perpetrated generationally and can fester when not nurtured correctly. Mental health issues in childhood can turn into aggression, violence, antisocial behavior, and homelessness (Schilling 3). The issues are more likely to be present in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas according to the study "Adverse childhood experiences and mental health in young adults: a longitudinal survey." Mental health initiatives need to be put into place early and need to be more accessible to socioeconomically disadvantaged populations (Elmelid 1). The Social and Health Assessment of 643 children, primarily economically disadvantaged, suggests that anxiety tends to motivate students and depression tends to hurt motivation. While anxiety positively affected students, teacher support, school attachment and parental control also positively contributed to mental health (Elmelid 1).
Beginning college can be extremely stressful and it is important to take care of mental health leading up to, and throughout college. Anxiety is "overwhelmingly" present in 65% of college students today according to the study " 'Constant Stress Has Become the New Normal': Stress and Anxiety Inequalities Among U.S. College Students in the Time of COVID-19." Anxiety is not something that can be destroyed or eliminated, it is instead, a shadow in our consciousness that must be dealt with. Carl Jung once said "If you imagine someone who is brave enough to withdraw all his projections, then you get an individual who is conscious of a pretty thick shadow... Such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world is in himself, and if he only learns to deal with his own shadow, he has done something real for the world." On a micro level, after acknowledging and becoming aware of the feelings "the shadow" of anxiety provides, the anxious person becomes more apt to channel the anxiety into academic productivity and a positive impact on their education. Anxiety is a productive motivator in school and using anxiety to fuel motivation decreases emotional fatigue and increases fortitude against exhaustion (Strack 1).
While addressing "the shadow" and then applying the intrinsic awareness into a routine is a helpful way to manage mental health, it is also important to be aware of the way external factors affect consciousness and manifest anxiety. Mental health is a subcategory of overall health that often does not get treated with the same respect and attention that dietary and physical heath receive (Dix 3). Contrary to popular belief, Anxiety, according to "Self-Determined Motivation and Competitive Anxiety in Athletes/Students: A Probabilistic Study Using Bayesian Networks." is more likely to be generated more from extrinsic motivation and amotivation rather than fear of poor performance. This means there is a solution to the problem that comes from within. Pivoting to growth mindset, an internally motivated, optimistic approach toward life, as opposed to fixed mindset, offers an inward solution to the anxiety epidemic plaguing young students (InnerDrive 3). Implementing a physical exercise routine, as simple as a few minutes of yoga per day, into regular practice offers a tangible approach to helping students mitigate their anxiety according to a study done by a group of medical professionals and professors from the University of Arkansas and the University of Tennessee (Shreve 1).
Despite its label as a mental health disorder, anxiety, when dealt with in a healthy manner, can lend itself favorably towards students when it comes to motivation and academic sucess. Mental health is an issue that is meant to be taken seriously, and can only be properly analyzed and addressed from within, by he/she who experiences its effects. Addressing the issue entails taking care of the mind and body early on, and developing healthy habits as life goes on, so the suffering becomes more manageable, and subsequently allows the one experiencing anxiety to channel it into productivity and success.
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