Editor's Note: This ongoing thrive series looks at how students on college campuses are innovating, overcoming challenges and living healthy lives.
ONTARIO — Many students find midterms to be an especially stressful time during the college semester. As students faced midterms and exams this week, some shared how they coped with the stress.
Erin Woodard, a freshman at The Ohio State University Mansfield campus, has found success despite worry and anxiety that comes as her math test date gets closer.
Because she said she doesn’t consider math to be a strong suit of hers, she dedicates most of her studying time to better understand these concepts.
Woodard said she recommends other students who feel overwhelmed with studying this week to take breaks and to give yourself some free time to relax, instead of just worrying about the details.
Woodard, graduated from Copley High School in Akron. With a passion for weather, she hopes to focus on meteorology while at OSU.
Strenuous homework and studying can be a major cause for anxiety among college students. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), in 2017, 61 percent of college students reported feeling anxious. Furthermore, 28 percent voiced concerns about academic performance.
Another student, Caitlin Stidam is a junior at Shelby High School taking college courses through OSU Mansfield’s College Credit Plus program. She plans on pursuing a pre-med undergraduate degree after graduating high school, with dreams of one day becoming a doctor.
“It’s been stressful,” she said of her three midterms coming up. “I’ve been handling it though.”
The 17-year-old student is adapting to the stress of being on a collegiate campus. She said her grades are averaging 97 percent, proving she can handle the stress.
Her best advice for getting through midterms is to manage time properly and not procrastinate on studying.
“Don’t save it until the last night,” she said. “I usually talk to my family if I get stressed. It always helps.”
If students wish to speak to someone outside their family, OSU Mansfield provides counseling at no cost to the student.
New Directions, a local counseling center, has licensed counselors on campus full-time.
Their Student Assistance Program (SAP), provides students evaluation, brief sessions, and referral services for a variety of problems. Concerns including stress, depression, test anxiety and academic performance concerns, are all offered by SAP.
Tess Bianchi, a licensed professional clinical counselor on campus, said she's seen more students this week than usual.
Bianchi also said the demand for mental health care among college students has increased significantly over the past 10 years.
"When I started at the campus in January 2009, we had 6 hours a week to provide clinical counseling to OSU Mansfield and NCSC students. Now we have 114 hours of care per week that we are serving both campuses to treat the growing demand for mental health treatment. [And] every year the need grows," Bianchi said.
This increasing demand for mental health care is not only found on local campuses, but on college campuses nationwide.
The APA reported a 30 percent rise in students seeking appointments at counseling centers between 2009-10 and 2014-15. They also reported that in 2017 the student-to-counseling ratio at colleges and universities was 1,737 to 1.
Bianchi said that this rise in the demand for counseling among students is caused by a number of factors. For example, now that stigma surrounding treatment is beginning to diminish, students are becoming less afraid to seek treatment.
Stress is a normal part of life, especially in college, and although it may not go away completely, students can learn how to better manage their stress and strengthen their stress tolerance.
Every week, New Directions offers a "stress-buster" group to teach OSU and North Central State College (NCSC) students strategies to manage their stress and deal with anxiety.
Bianchi also recommends that students utilize the Student Success Center at OSU, with Darla Myers, to receive help with time management and study skills, and emphasizes the need for self-care.