UHV offers help with freshman stress

Feb. 19, 2011 at 4:05 p.m.
Updated Feb. 18, 2011 at 8:19 p.m.

UHV Counseling Center director Jesse Aros

UHV Counseling Center director Jesse Aros

A recent University of California Los Angeles study found that today's college freshmen are more stressed out than ever before.

And while the University of Houston-Victoria lead counselor agrees, he said campus officials provide ways for students to deal with college stress.

The study, "The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2010," recently made national news. It stated that the emotional health of college freshmen has declined to the lowest level in the past quarter century since the surveys began.

"It's no surprise because I think all of the population is more stressed," said Jesse Aros, UHV Counseling Center director. "It can be rough now, given the financial challenges of the past few years, the job market and the uncertainty of a comfortable retirement. Instead of having a job for life as past generations have had, many people have to retrench themselves two to three times. Losing that security is tough."

The study found that many students are worried about their own college debt and wonder if they will be able to find a job once they complete their degree. Students also feel stress from the expectations they put on themselves.

Aros said UHV has a number of counseling options for students who feel stress, and he can give assessments to gauge depression or anxiety. He said many students are working to help support their families, and some of their parents are dealing with unemployment.

"It can be difficult to deal with the stresses of being an adult, a scholar, a worker, an athlete, or a parent," he said. "Many students have multiple roles."

The UHV Counseling Center has added hours after 5 p.m. to accommodate students who need to see a counselor after class.

UHV offers counseling for individuals, couples, families and groups. The counseling center also helps the university's Academic Center with workshops dealing with memory techniques, healthy relationships and even the side effects of energy drinks.

Chari Norgard, associate vice president for student affairs, said as the university continues to grow, so will the need for services.

"With the addition of freshmen and sophomores this year, it stands to reason that the demand for counseling services would increase," Norgard said.

"No matter who you are, if you get under too much pressure, you can crack. We want to let students know that we are here for them, and we can offer solutions," Aros said.

Some additional pressure may come from families, intentional or not, especially for students who are the first to attend a university.

"Here at UHV, we have lots of first-generation students," Aros said. "It's great that they are seeking to be the first, but it definitely adds some pressure regarding expectations."

The counseling office's outreach includes participation in face-to-face and virtual events, a video in production that will explain its services and campus posters.

"We want to break that stereotype that a person is weak if he or she asks for help," Aros said. "Just like any type of medical help, it's best if we can catch it early or prevent it."



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