Future Uncertainty, Financial Issues Add to Stress in College Students

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Ashley Merianos, PhD, CHES
Health Promotion & Education Program
University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, Ohio   45221-0068

Medical Research: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Merianos: Our study found that college students are unhappy and have difficulty with stress management. Specifically, the majority (61.0%) of participants reported having high stress, and were most stressed about school, lack of time, and with their future career. Although high levels of stress were reported, most (72.0%) students reported low frequency in using stress management techniques. Our study shows that students who reported low happiness reported higher stress levels and lower emotional closeness to others.
Medical Research: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Merianos: We were not surprised by students having high stress and low happiness. However, we were surprised that many students were stressed and were not doing anything about it in regards to stress management techniques.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Merianos: College students are not using simple stress-management techniques that contribute to their stress levels, which contribute to them feeling unhappy. Although this study examines college students, these findings are generalizable to all people. Individuals can become happier if they reduce their stress and receive social support and care.

Clinicians should encourage immediate and long-term methods for relieving some of their patients’ stress. Some examples of immediate actions are counting to ten slowly, visioning the bigger picture, or simply contacting a friend to talk. Some examples of long-term actions are diet and exercise and having daily “me” time.

For the college student population, educational programming for increasing happiness should include increasing social connectedness and assertive training skills for maintaining healthy relationships. Professionals should consider incorporating financial planning along with skills for being successful at school and work because these areas were where students were the most stressed about.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Merianos: Evaluation research should be conducted to identify effective programs that improve students’ happiness and decrease high stress levels. Future interventions should aim to reduce stress levels by teaching college students how to adopt simple and effective stress management techniques.

A study of stress, social support, and perceived happiness among college students

The Journal of Happiness & Well-Being, 2014, 2(2), 132-144