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More students seeking help for anxiety at the University of Missouri

Student stress levels on the University of Missouri campus are much higher than years past.

The MU Counseling Center has seen almost 20 percent more students so far this semester compared to the same time last year, according to Christy Hutton, Ph.D., the Assistant Director for Outreach and Prevention.

Thirty-five percent more students are also using crisis services, which means they need immediate help.

ABC 17 News talked to students to find out why this is happening, some of it may be due to campus violence across the country.

“I feel like there’s a lot of school shootings happening around the country,” MU Senior Myla Taylor said. “And I think that makes people really paranoid. And so a lot of people are worried about that, especially this being a big campus, there’s a lot of people. Anything could really happen.”

Many current issues may be increasing students’ anxiety, Hutton said.

“There’s been a lot of students speaking up about race relations, speaking up about safety on campus, speaking up about a variety of factors that impact their life here at Mizzou,” Hutton said. “And those things we know impact students’ stress.”

Forty million adults in the U.S. suffer from anxiety disorders, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.Seventy-five percent experience their first episode of anxiety by the time they are 22.

Many students on the MU campus told ABC 17 their stress levels are high right now, most saying piling home school work, job searching or deadlines are what is getting to them.

“Usually a buildup of deadlines, lots of papers due at once, capstone classes, I’ve got research projects to do, and then other classes on top of that, just an overload of work in general,” MU Senior Matthew Wade said.

The large increase in student visits is even starting to back up appointments at the counseling center.

“It is a little bit harder for students to get into services this year than what we’re accustomed to for sure,” Hutton said. “So when students are coming in, it is taking a couple weeks for them to get that first appointment.”

Hutton believes the increase may be due to a combination of high anxiety levels and more willingness from students to ask for help.

“While there’s still a lot of stigma associated with mental health problems, I think for this generation the stigma is much lower than for some previous–well all previous generations,” Hutton said.

The counseling center’s phone number is on the back of all student ID cards for the first time this year. This may be another reason visits have increased, Hutton said.

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