More students are seeking help from the counseling office this year. Fall 2011 saw a 49% increase from fall 2010 in the number of students who visited the counseling office for help.
While the office noted a general increase in appointments over the past few years, “The statistics this year grabbed our attention,” said Coordinator of Counseling Stuart Bicknell. “While we can’t claim cause and effect, we can speculate about what in students’ lives today—home and school—might influence this increase in stress and requests for counseling.”
Counselor Sheila Fritz speculated that “academic and co-curricular over-scheduling, new economic and other home- and family-related stresses, and poor sleep habits” contribute to the high level of stress that brings students to the office.
“Counseling is now more socially acceptable,” added Dr. Bicknell. With parents increasingly open to counseling as a method of stress relief, Dr. Bicknell suggested that students may feel newly comfortable approaching both adult and peer counselors.
Academic Dean Peter Warsaw cited an increase in early college applications (84% of the senior class applied early) as one of the chief sources of new school stress this autumn.
Added pressure on members of the faculty to complete letters of recommendation before winter break “trickles down to students,” said Mr. Warsaw. “Teachers may need to limit their availability for extra help around midterms and exams.”
According to Mr. Warsaw, a number of other stress-inducers have heightened recently.
“An increase in parental involvement in course selection and college applications, a record-high school average, rigorous course loads, and a culture of perfection” have collided to push students and faculty alike towards a “tipping point,” he said.
“Everything is interrelated,” explained Mr. Warsaw. “Change one thing, add one new stress, and other things must change, and other stresses are created. It’s an ecosystem.”