Student stress high at OU

Staff at OU’s Graham Health Center is working to understand why students are so stressed.

According to the National College Health Assessment (NCHA), given to students in the fall of 2012, Oakland students reported stress at 38 percent, and anxiety at 28.1 percent, to be their highest impediments to learning.

Nationally, students deemed stress and anxiety their highest obstacles to learning. However, OU ranked 10 points higher than the national average on these two percentages.

Melissa Reznar, OU assistant professor of health sciences, said these factors were reported as higher impediments than relationships, Internet use and alcohol use.

Nancy Jansen, GHC director, along with Julie Proctor, GHC Health and Wellness coordinator, spearheaded the process of getting this survey to OU students in 2012.


Commuter stress

Both Jansen and Proctor noted one big difference they think could be causing the extra stress reported by students.

“I wonder if it is somewhat related to the fact that we are a commuter school,” Jansen said.

Proctor agreed, saying she wondered if driving in traffic and parking on campus added to the stress levels of students.

“In order to find this out we would have to compare OU percentages to other commuter campuses to see if commuting is the cause of the extra stress,” Proctor said.


Work it

There’s one more thing — work. OU students ranked work as the third highest impediment to learning at 24.5 percent compared to 13.5 percent nationally.

Proctor said more OU students report having jobs outside of school than the national average. Several students work full or part-time jobs on top of commuting to and from school.


Spreading the word

Since receiving the NCHA report, Proctor and Jansen have been trying to spread awareness of student anxiety around campus.

“Just sitting on this data in our clinic is not useful to students. There’s a lot of important information out there that students need to be aware of,” Jansen said.

“One of the things we’re doing is we’ve sent this information to other departments around campus hoping they will use the information that relates to their department and help students alleviate some of their stress,” she said.



Jansen started the iPause workshop in September of this year.

iPause, which is led by OU students, focuses on meditation, stress management and massage.

“It is a time for students to just be quiet for one hour,” Jansen said.

Melissa Reznar has used the NCHA information as inspiration for starting up a health advisory group at OU.

Reznar said the group is in its infancy, but it aims to help students manage the stress they experience in day-to-day life.

“In terms of ensuring that our students are healthy and performing at their best academically, stress is clearly an issue that we need to address,” Reznar said.

The group includes members of the GHC and Campus Recreation, both of who have done and are currently doing, programs for stress reduction.

“We also have students on the health advisory committee because nobody knows the realities of student life better than students,” Reznar said.

Students who are interested in getting involved in the health advisory group can contact Reznar at [email protected].

Stress in college life is unavoidable but Reznar suggests engaging in relaxation, whether it be meditation, exercise, or deep breathing.