Now that we’ve gotten our first semester of college under our belts, let’s talk about stress.
I don’t know if it’s a byproduct of being in the honors college or if there’s just something in the water at Penn State, but I’ve seen more stressed out teenagers in the past six months than I’ve ever seen in my life. With regular midterms, papers, and extracurricular demands, college students are under a lot of pressure. The wailing of ambulance sirens is frighteningly common in Happy Valley, marking the consequences of another student pushed past their breaking point. It seems to me there’s a problem we’re not dealing with.
Despite having common experiences, many of us don’t feel comfortable expressing our emotions and anxieties. As I mentioned in my article about mental health discrimination, we grow up learning that anxiety and loneliness are weaknesses – most of us have spent years developing the perfect happy face; we refuse to reveal the intense feelings inside. Our mental health is critical to our success in school and in our lives beyond, and it’s infuriating to see mental health discrimination pervading our culture. The more we age, the higher our walls grow – we learn as children that successful people show no weakness, so we try to hide ours.
I vote we change that pattern.
The Penn State University Health Services offers CAPS chats in all the housing commons – the weekly meetings are an amazing opportunity to check in with other students who are just as stressed out as you and me. Some chats have themes, like self-care or time management, while others are an open forum for students to come and talk about what’s going on in their lives. Here is the chats schedule, pulled from the Penn State Student Affairs Site:
CAPS Chat in the Commons
- Pollock Commons Monday 2-4pm (Pollock Halls: Residence life office)
- Warnock Commons Tuesday 2-4pm (North Halls: Cultural Lounge)
- Redifer Commons Wednesday 2-4pm (South Halls: Residence life office)
- Waring Commons Thursday 2-4pm (West Halls: Cultural Lounge)
- Johnston Commons Friday 10am-12pm (East Halls: Residence life office)
CAPS Chat at the Law School (For Law Students and SIA Students)
- Law School – office #310 Thursday 12:30-2:30pm
LGBTQA Student Resource Center
- 101 Boucke Building Monday 2-4pm
- 101 Boucke Building Wednesday 2-4pm
- 220 Grange Building Tuesday 12:30-2:30pm (Only on 2/13, 3/13, and 4/3)
- 21 HUB – Robeson Center Wednesday 2:30-4:00pm (bi-weekly, 1/24, 2/7, 3/7, 3/21, 4/4, and 4/18)
There is no pressure to come every week or to go to the same place every time – that’s the beauty of CAPS Chats! I encourage each and every one of you to go to at least one chat sometime this semester; college is stressful, and CAPS is being proactive about giving us a place to let some of it go. Make your mental health a priority – college is busy, difficult, and stressful, and it’s the best time of our lives – let’s make sure we’re able to enjoy it.
No matter who you are, stress and anxiety is part of your life – we all deal with it. Let’s come together and chat about it; who knows, maybe we’ll finally start to feel better.