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College students' mental health impacted by the stress of the end of the year

"This time of year is particularly stressful," University of Maine Counseling Center Director, Angela Fileccia, said.

ORONO, Maine — Mental health in college students is getting worse, according to a Healthy Minds Study published last year in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

A survey of more than 350,000 college students found more than 60 percent had at least one mental health problem during the 2020-2021 school year. That's an increase of nearly 50 percent from 2013.

The University of Maine's Counseling Center Director, Angela Fileccia, said, "This time of year is particularly stressful."

At the end of a semester, students have finals, papers, and projects to complete, but for a season of joy, the holidays bring an additional layer of stress for people.

A total of 41 percent of adults said their stress increased during the holidays, according to a study from the American Psychiatric Association.

"College students are no different," Fileccia said.

Fileccia, a clinical social worker, has worked in this field for more than 20 years. She said, especially this year, she's seeing students struggling as life begins to return to normal after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Folks lost some ground in terms of some of their social skills and some of their coping strategies," Fileccia said.

UMaine's student life educator, Kevin Hudson, recently began working in the Student Wellness Resource Center after working as a high school teacher for more than 17 years.

"The pandemic was visibly and mentally straining for the kids," Hudson said.

Straining in a sense that home dynamics changed, compartmentalizing different aspects of their lives.


Hudson said he sees how that period has varied effects on student transitions into a college setting.

"Their transitory phase, into like, a college setting, is just not what it used to be, not where it should be," Hudson said.

Fileccia said she wants to remind students to normalize the struggle as it's normal to face adversity in life.

"All of us are going to have struggles or challenges — that's a normal part of life. And if you feel like you're struggling, and it doesn't quite seem normal to you, seek help," Fileccia said.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, follow this link to view Maine's mental health services or you can dial 988 to call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

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