| 03.18.2018

Prioritizing the mind


With Counseling and Testing Center understaffed, students must fend for themselves

or many college students, the last week of the semester is a flurry of last-minute assignments, projects and papers as final exams loom on the horizon.
With most of the attention focused toward a formidable academic workload, it is easy to forget one of the most important things to consider during finals: mental health.
The scholastic pressure in the closing weeks of the semester often result in increased levels of anxiety and stress, as students scramble to make up for previous procrastination and end the year on a strong note.

The culmination of coursework can often overwhelm and discourage students who are just trying to survive the week. In addition, many graduating seniors may be experiencing apprehension as they inch closer to the search for an entry-level job.
Unfortunately, many students at the University of Idaho will not receive the encouragement they need to combat anxiety on campus this fall. The Counseling and Testing Center is currently overscheduled with student requests due to understaffing and a lack of resources.
The organization consistently helps students by offering everything from crisis management to career guidance. Without the Counseling and Testing Center to provide support, many students are left to fend for themselves during one of the most difficult academic periods of the year.

According to data from the 2015 National College Health Assessment, 30 percent of college students reported negative academic performance because of stress, while 85 percent felt overwhelmed with the academic workload they faced.
With the impact of stress prominent throughout the entire campus, it is important for students to have an outlet to manage the detrimental effects of anxiety.

Although self-help methods exist, UI administration should recognize the increasing need for a campus presence to help students cope with extremely high levels of stress and anxiety.
For students who need immediate aid, there are several methods that may help lower stress. Reducing the consumption of caffeinated products will help students avoid a jittery feeling, while exercise and meditation can jumpstart a feeling of relaxation in the body.

But perhaps the most important aspect is to consider is sleep. It may be tempting to fight through grogginess into the late hours of the night to study for a final exam, but studies have consistently demonstrated a better academic performance for students who get a good night’s rest.

Although self-help methods exist, it is no excuse for the issue of understaffing at the Counseling and Testing Center. Many individuals rely on these counselors to address personal issues, and the lack of attention from administration showcases a disregard for the mental health of students.

More priority should be placed on keeping students healthy, as studies show healthy students perform better academically. While much of this correlation may be confounded by the fact that students who are predisposed to do better in school are also likely predisposed to be healthier — the connections do reinforce each other in a student.

The university has consistently invested in the health of the student body in the name of academic success, as is evidenced by the change in tobacco policy and the hosting of events like “Pause for Paws.” The university should continue in this vein by addressing the current issues within the Counseling and Testing Center.

— JG

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