Student holding a happy dog.

Stressbusters is a nationwide college health program that helps students rediscover relaxation and provides resources designed to help students in academic success.

Stress is defined by the National Institutes of Health as the body’s and brain’s response to a demand. Stress comes in different forms that are either beneficial or harmful, depending on the situation. Students, especially graduate students, experience stress from the pressures of school, finances, or other outside factors that often lead to harmful effects. Specifically, stress can lead to a variety of health issues that can lead to serious complications if not addressed. Therefore, it is important that both graduate students and their universities acknowledge this stress and help to minimize and reduce stress in students.  

In the 2019 National College Health Assessment, administered by the American College Health Association, 23.9 percent of graduate and professional students reported that stress had affected their academic performance in the past year. More concerning was the number of students who reported different signs of depression — 86 percent of graduate students felt overwhelmed with what they had to do in the last 12 months, and half felt overwhelmed within the past two weeks.

These numbers are almost identical to the percent of students who felt mentally exhausted — 62.9 percent of graduate students felt overwhelming anxiety in the past year, and around 25 percent in the past two weeks. In fact, 25.5 percent were either diagnosed or treated for anxiety in the past year. About half of respondents felt hopeless in the past year, 58 percent felt lonely, and 34 percent felt overwhelming anger.  In addition, over half of the students reported feeling tired for at least three days a week. These are all common signs of stress and burnout and show the seriousness of stress in graduate students.

Another concerning factor is that the percentage of students reporting stress or its associated symptoms has continuously increased since the survey began, especially anxiety and depression. Students with anxiety and depression grew from 25.5 percent to 45.2 percent. Particularly, the percentage of students who have been diagnosed or treated for both anxiety and depression doubled from 2014 to 2019. These numbers demonstrate that the growing concern for stress and correlated mental health effects in graduate students needs to be addressed.

It is important for both University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) students and the University to be aware of the concerns and health problems associated with stress and to do their part at preventing and addressing stress. Luckily, UMB has developed resources for students to help cope with stress and its symptoms. The American Institute of Stress recommends various simple tips to help maintain stress levels, including exercise, meditation, counseling, and more. Many of these are available to students through URecFit, the Wellness Hub, the Student Counseling Center, and more.

In addition, for finals week, UMB is bringing back Stressbusters, which consists of events that help students relieve stress in between exams. These events include “Lego Your Stress with the Campus Bookstore,” where students can give their mind a break and play with Legos; “Affirming Journal Making with Drama Mama Bookstore,” where students can make journals; and “Puppy Love,” an event where students relax a play with puppies. Although these events cannot make stress go away, they are a great way to reduce stress. This can help to improve memory and focus in order to be best prepared for final exams.

For more information on UMB Stressbusters, visit the link below.


Students, faculty, and staff, let your voice be heard!
Submit Your Story.