I have worked with students for nearly two decades, and the increasing number of students struggling with anxiety is alarming.
A recent article in Psychology Today outlines reasons why so many college students have anxiety disorders.
Diane Dreher states:
Research points to three changes in our culture that could be undermining the mental health of today’s college students.
- An increase in materialistic values…
- The rising cost of college…
- Delayed adulthood and external locus of control…
Let me briefly touch on each point. First, I agree with the author’s statement that today there is more emphasis on materialism, consumerism, and financial success. Just the other day, my wife and I had a conversation with our young children who have begun to place too much importance on material things. “Remember,” I said to my kids, “people are more important than stuff.”
Second, Dreher points to rising costs of tuition and living expenses in the U.S., but the trend is similar in Canada. For example, when I was an undergrad 20 years ago, the average cost of tuition in the country was around $3000. Today, it is more than $6500.
Third, on the idea of delayed adulthood and external locus of control, I concur. Just last week, I was talking with a young man who dropped out of university in his second semester. He blamed everyone but himself for his lack of success.
I agree with Dreher that these factors are affecting students’ development and mental health. But I would add another societal change that also plays a major role: use of technology. Sounds like a topic for another blog.