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Parents’ Guide on College
Yadi Anguino, PsyD; David Rudesill, LCSW; & Maritza Nigro, LCSW
Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS)
Student Health Center
California State University, Los Angeles
Why is college
so stressful?
Stress vs.
Chronic distress
Drug and
Alcohol abuse,
Eating Disorder,
Solutions & Skills
What Makes College So Stressful?
 Academic demands
 Forming new friendships
 Adjusting to new environment on one’s own
 Relationship issues
 Financial responsibilities
 Exposure to new people, ideas, cultures, temptations, etc.
 Awareness of one’s sexual identity and orientation
American College Health Association (ACHA), National College Health Assessment, 2014
How Important are these stressors?
ACHA, 2014
 Overall, 43.7% of students rated their stress level as more than average
 Students rated stress (30.3%), anxiety (21.8%), sleep difficulties (21.0%) and depression
(13.5%) as the highest factors that affected individual academic performance
 33% of students said that they felt “so depressed that it was difficult to function”
 47% felt that “things were hopeless” at least once in the previous year
 54% of students felt “overwhelming anxiety” at least once in the previous year
 87% of students felt “overwhelmed” by all they had to do”
What is Stress?
 Stress is the body’s reaction to a challenge
 The right kind of stress can sharpen the mind and reflexes, which may help with
performance or escaping a dangerous situation
 Too much stress can impede performance and negatively impact health
 Fight or Flight Response
What am I looking for?
Normal College
Chronic, ongoing
Normal College Stress
 Stress from a deadline to finish; motivation
 Trying new things or engaging in new experiences; learning
 Building new relationships; connection
 Getting into a car accident
 Being self-motivated
 Not having all the answers for all problems
Chronic, Ongoing Stress
4 Primary Symptoms
 Physical: headaches, migraines, IBS, muscle tension, blurry vision, increased heart rate,
difficulty breathing, nausea, fainting, chest tightness.
 Emotional: high emotional expression, tantrums, feeling cut-off or lacking emotion
 Cognitive: difficulty making decisions and thinking clearly, self-critical, self-doubt
 Behavioral: procrastination, avoidance, impulsive behaviors, abusing substances
Most Common
Less Common
 Trauma
 Bipolar Disorder
 Anxiety
 Schizophrenia or related disorders
 Depression
 Suicidality
 Eating Disorders
 Drug & Alcohol Dependency
 Phase of Life
What Can I Do to Help?
You can make a difference!
Wellness and Care
 Sleep:
 Reduce the demands at home so that they can allow time for rest
 Diet
 Exercise
Change the Communication
 Talk
 Help them make decisions on their own
 Ask questions
 Discuss expectations on communication
 Phone calls
 Texting
 Social media
 Address your concerns about their well-being
 Talking about their well being makes it easier to talk about sensitive topics, and reduces the likelihood of drug and
alcohol use, anxiety, and even suicidality.
 Listen
 Most students would turn to their parents if they ever found themselves in an emotional breakdown
(UMTV, JED Foundation).
Be Supportive
 Positive Praises
 Finals, end of semester, presentation, problem
 Encourage your son/daughter to make their own decisions
 Eases their anxiety, reassures them that they can make this happen.
 Encourage a social life
 It is healthy and helpful for students to have a positive outlet.
Where can I seek more help?
Cal State LA
 Insurance
 National Suicide Prevention Hotline
 Mind Matters
 Community Agencies
 Student Health Center
 Academic Counseling Center
Your college student calls you on a Tuesday evening and tells you that they want to talk. You
find this strange because they usually call to check-in on Friday to tell you about their plans
for the weekend. They begin to tell you that they did poorly on a mid-term on a class that
they were struggling in. As they tell you about their worry, you notice that they are talking
very fast, and is having a tough time breathing. Your college student is tearful, and is being
hard on themselves.