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Becoming a 'Relief Valve'

 —  September 18, 2012 — 1 Comment

I came across an article about undergraduate students stress.  There were some interesting facts that stood out to me.  Here are a few of those found in a Study by the American College Counseling Association:

  • There has been a 21.6% increase in students who have been diagnosed with “severe psychological problems” from 2000 to 2012.
  •  42% of counselors noted there has been an increase in self-injury issues
  • 24% said there has been an increase in eating disorders

In the article, John MacPhee, executive director of the Jed Foundation, which oversees the website ULifeline.org, a resource center for students dealing with emotional issues says, “Only back pain, sinuses, and allergies are more prevalent [than depression and anxiety] among college students.”

I don’t think it’s any surprise that undergraduates are under stress.  They feel pressure from all sorts of angles.  Tuition is rising and so is debt issues.  In fact, the debt stuff is detrimental to more and more in school.  Finding a job is tough and students know that.  Everything from schooling to job market has become more and more competitive.  Then add in relational tensions, trying to find a sense of identity as they become more self aware, figuring out what they actually want to do vocationally and then facing the challenges or pressures of their family (whatever that may look like) all adds up.

Then they face mid-terms and finals….on and on.  THEN, add onto all this internal pressure, ministry leaders who pressure them to be involved in their ministry.  Ministry leaders who push them to serve in a ministry and be involved in some “program.”

Well…being connected in a church is certainly important, but perhaps they could just use a little conversation.  Maybe, just maybe, they could use someone simply coming up to them after church and inviting them out for lunch, only to see how they are doing.  Maybe they could use someone in their life that is simply interested in them…as a human being and places zero pressure on them, but instead is a “relief valve.”

One response to Becoming a 'Relief Valve'

  1. That’s an interesting image to apply to our roles in the lives of college students. While recently reading about and discussing the life of Augustine, I was reminded by someone of the pressures he felt and struggles he had as a young man. Obviously the life of a college student today is different, but it is interesting to note Augustine’s journey. However this distinction only helps to reinforce your point that the context and experience of college life is unique in how it has concentrated so many pressures into one part of life. In consideration of all that pressure, something has to be relieved rather than added, which I think is a good word.

    Looking forward to seeing you next month in Pleasant Hill!

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