Handling Student Stress

Handling Student Stress

QS Staff Writer

Updated February 23, 2023 Updated February 23

Almost all students experience stress to some degree. Whether mild or more serious, find out what university support services are available to help.

Leaving home for the first time to study abroad, academic and social pressures, and that sudden feeling that you're an adult, can be incredibly exciting - but also rather overwhelming.

Universities worldwide are well aware of the importance of helping students cope with stress, and have a range of support services on offer.

You may feel that your stress level isn't bad enough to seek help, but remember it's always better to take action sooner rather than later. 

And if you're put off by the idea of one-on-one counselling, that's probably not the only option. Universities like University College London (UCL) offer group sessions to provide guidance to undergraduates on issues such as overcoming procrastination and dealing with stress.

UCL's Student Online Support Service is another formal resource the university has implemented to help students deal with a variety of problems, by helping one another.

Catherine McAteer, Manager and Senior Counsellor at the Student Counselling Service at UCL believes undergraduates are greatly helped through peer assistance.

"We reach students where they are and provide them the kind of support they can use at any given time," she reports.

"Utilizing the online system can be a stepping stone to overcoming stress or seeking later support." The counselling centre at UCL also has a menagerie of books available to students who may not feel completely comfortable coming in to see a counsellor.

Dr Olivera Bojic-Ognjenovic, Counsellor and Therapist at the Counselling & Learning Skills Service at the University of Toronto, reports very similar causes of stress amongst undergraduates.

She stresses the importance of tackling stress before it builds up. "The centre is extremely busy around exam time. Students aren't necessarily stressed about obtaining their desired marks, but underlying issues like depression tend to surface during periods of stress."

The University of Toronto has even taken the extra measure of creating a non-denominational meditation room for those requiring tranquility.

Bojic-Ognjenovic does explain that many students are simply worried about their academic performance, saying that an increased level of competition witnessed throughout the past few years has definitely contributed to higher stress levels amongst undergraduates.

The good news is that receiving help, no matter how much or how little, is no longer taboo. Dr Bojic-Ognjenovic and her colleagues believe there has been a jump in male students coming forward to better their academic and social careers. What was once 'uncool' is now normal practice.

Stress is often difficult to avoid but university resources are there to help. Preventative measures like addressing issues as soon as they arise are excellent, but when stress feels too tough to eliminate, do a bit of research to find out what your university can offer.

This article was originally published in November 2012 . It was last updated in January 2020