College Students & Social Anxiety


Every day college students all across the country work on their next assignments and study for the upcoming midterm. Some may wonder what they’ll do this coming weekend. Many of them hang out with their friends or attend a club meeting or grab lunch with someone. These tiny interactions may seem very ordinary, but for many American college students, about 41.6% to be exact, face anxiety over the little details of every social interaction they have, and worry what others think. 

Social anxiety is the top anxiety disorder that college students are diagnosed with, followed by depression (“College Students’ Mental Health Is a Growing Concern, Survey Finds,” 2013). Over the last year or so, it has been recorded that there has been a sharp increase in anxiety and depression among college students, with over 90% of college students seeing a change in their mental health during the pandemic (Dennon, 2011). It can be difficult to open up about how you are feeling, especially in regards to your interactions with other people, or even your friends. But many who have social anxiety can benefit from opening up to someone about how they are truly feeling. 

One of these people was student Tobias J. Atkins, an Australian author who wrote a book titled How I Overcame Social Anxiety, who, after years of dealing with his social anxiety on his own, decided to talk to someone about how he felt inside. While all his life he said he was told it, “was weak to talk about feelings. When I did try to tell people, I felt they didn’t understand me or what I was going through. I was told things like “harden up” and “who cares what others think?” I have since come to realize that admitting you need help and talking about your feelings is one the bravest things you can do” (Atkins, 2016). Turning to someone you trust, or going to talk to a psychologist, can take a huge burden off of one’s shoulders. There are many ways to alleviate social anxiety, but reaching out to another person is a good first step.

There are many different types of strategies that a college student can use to help with their social anxiety. The National Social Anxiety Center has recommended that students don’t avoid situations where they will be anxious, but instead have these experiences so that they can build up a tolerance. The center also suggests that you should start getting accustomed to smaller social interactions, and then slowly build up to even larger ones. This can be getting into the habit of saying hello to the same person you see in the hallway everyday, and eventually being able to attend a club meeting where there will be many people. Many websites that talk about  mental health encourage a person with anxiety to celebrate any successes they may have, and to keep pushing forward if things don’t go as planned (Montopoli, 2017). 

Though dealing with social anxiety can be a rather long and difficult road, over time, a person’s situation can get better through much practice. Even turning to the person next to you in one of your classes and introducing yourself is progress. Though socializing with other people can be very hard, there is always the chance that you may click with someone and make a lifelong connection. 

 

Resources

Atkins , T. J. (2016, September 7). My Lifelong Struggle With Social Anxiety. Anxiety & Depression Association of America.

Bajowski, C. (2021). The 19th. photograph.

College students’ mental health is a growing concern, survey finds. American Psychological Association . (2013, June).

Dennon, A. (2011, April 11). Over 9 in 10 College Students Report Mental Health Impacts From COVID-19. Best Colleges.

Montopoli , J. (2017, August 13). THRIVING AS A COLLEGE STUDENT WITH SOCIAL ANXIETY. National Social Anxiety Center.

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