News - November 23, 2015

More Wageningen students visit psychologist due to study stress

Linda van der Nat

The number of Wageningen students that sought for help at the student psychologist has increased considerably in 2014. The troubled students were particularly effected by intense stress, this was seen in the figures from the student psychologists of Wageningen UR.

In 2014 a total of 709 students sought help at the student psychologist compared to 542 in 2013. This is an increase of more than 30 percent. This increase was mainly seen in students that are struggling with study related problems. Especially the number of students that sought help due to study stress has increased. 18,6 percent of the registration questions was about this, compared to 13,4 percent the year before.

An explanation is difficult to give, says student psychologist Ineke Leenders, because the problems often play on different grounds and influence each other. ‘Stress in the private situation often also causes the study to not go well.’ Also the current study climate can increase stress, the psychologist thinks. ‘I see a lot of perfectionistic students that want to do everything right. They want to get good grades, but also do not want to miss any social things and want to work on their CV. The expectations are sky high, but the time is limited, because you can no longer take really long to finish your studies. This combination creates a pressure cooker.’

The complaints that the students report vary from physical problems, such as headaches and stomach-aches, to insomnia and panic attacks. Leenders: ‘They worry a lot, have the feeling that they are not enough, that they have failed. They join everything and cannot enjoy anything anymore.’ Sometimes the stress is so large that they develop a burn-out and have to (temporarily) stop with their study. Leenders cannot say how many students are involved.

The expanding student population is not the reason behind the increased number of students that visit the psychologist. The percentage of help seekers was pretty stable; 6,8 percent of the total number of enrolled students. In 2014 this percentage was suddenly 7,2 percent. The university had to employ an extra psychologist to eliminate the waiting list.

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