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Stressed Out Students: Back-to-Class Can be Taxing for Many

*** NEWS RELEASE ***
For Immediate Release
August 25, 2014
Lighthouse Network’s Dr. Karl Benzio: Freshmen Especially May Struggle with Roommates, Temptations and Pressure

Philadelphia—To those who have been out of the classroom for some time, college days might seem like a carefree stage of life—four years before the pressures of the “real world” begin.

But today’s college students have significant stressors and face immense pressure—social, financial and academic. In fact, research from the Associated Press and mtvU found that 85 percent of college students experience stress on a daily basis; about three-quarters of the 2,200 students polled said their stress was academic or grade-related. For a separate study, mtvU partnered with the Jed Foundation, which found that more than half of college students had been, at times, so stressed that they couldn’t function.

As college students around the country head back to class this week, Karl Benzio, M.D., a psychiatrist and founder and executive director of Lighthouse Network (www.lighthousenetwork.org), an addiction and mental health counseling helpline, says that the stress college students face, coupled with new freedoms and peer pressures regarding drugs, alcohol and sex, can be a recipe for a dangerous cocktail.

“When we think about the stress and pressures college students face, it’s no wonder they often turn to drugs or alcohol to cope,” Benzio says. “A freshman, especially, is dealing with being away from home, perhaps for the first time, homesickness for friends and family, possible roommate issues, academics that are more difficult than they’ve ever known, and the temptations that come with the freedom of being on their own.

“College-age students often know the wheels are falling off as their drinking, promiscuity, study habits, class attendance and aberrant sleep and eating patterns are not what they want, but because of stress, temptation, lack of grounding and peer pressure, these things are now spiraling out of control. Students are then apprehensive to reach out for professional help from Student Health Services or to tell their parents or good friends because they are supposed to be independent, able to handle their own problems and having the time of their lives. They don’t want to look weak or like misfits or as if they are messing up this great opportunity in life.

“Unfortunately, the knee-jerk quick fixes campus life often provide usually worsen the problems as they enhance superficial living rather than help the student explore and grow in the deeper aspects of who they are and want to be. This is an important developmental time of transition, but it can also be a time when key support – such as parents, youth group leaders, close friends and family members are abruptly cut off as kids move away from home during this powerful part of their journey.”

Parents, however, can gauge their college students’ stress levels by watching for certain signs that will be telling evidence that stress has gotten out of control.

According to the University of Florida’s Counseling and Wellness Center, stressed-out students may exhibit physical symptoms such as muscular tension, colds or other illnesses, high blood pressure, indigestion, ulcers, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, headaches and backaches. Emotional symptoms can also include depression, anger, fear, anxiety, mood swings and feeling overwhelmed. Stress can also have cognitive effects for college students, fromforgetfulness to difficulty concentrating.

Benzio adds that some college students will try to push the stress away themselves, rather than talking to friends, parents or a counselor. Stress is the result of dealing with change, and self-medication is often a way to make the stress seemingly go away, at least short-term.

“College students, for the first time in their lives,” Benzio says, “have more freedom than ever before and easier access to alcohol and drugs. After a week of feeling stressed out over classes, roommates or balancing a job and studies, it can be easy to find a weekend party where drugs and alcohol are prevalent—and it can be tempting to begin these bad habits as a way to cope with these new feelings of stress. But the stress eventually returns, and depression, drug use and drinking can form a vicious cycle, where one heavily contributes to the other.

“Often times help is available at school through Christian fellowship groups and connection to a church group, but many college-age students turn away from spirituality and God, thinking they are independent now and should be the master or lord of their own life, while not seeing or knowing the benefits of following the life-management instruction manual of our all-powerful, all-knowing and all-loving God and Jesus.”

Benzio added that those who are concerned about a college-aged child or fellow student should reach out for help through a trusted mental health resource or hospital. And the most effective help will incorporate God into the healing process, because without Him, no amount of rehab, treatment or medication can bring lasting healing and transformation.
Lighthouse Network offers a free, 24-hour helpline, 1-844-LIFE-CHANGE (1-844-543-3242) for those who are struggling and for their family and friends. Lighthouse Network also provides online resources for those concerned about a friend or a loved one. Visit www.lighthousenetwork.org/im-family-a-friend.

Benzio shares insights on various mental health issues in the one-minute daily radio feature “Life Change with Dr. Karl,” airing on approximately 425 radio stations across the country, including 200 stations in the American Family Radio Network. The purpose of the “Life Change” program is to bring scientific expertise and biblical principles together to examine some common daily struggles and help people successfully navigate life’s obstacles and enjoy fulfilled lives. For more information on “Life Change with Dr. Karl,” visit www.lighthousenetwork.org/life-change-with-dr-karl/.

Lighthouse Network works to guide struggling people through storms to achieve peace and find answers for those who have a hard time defining their problems. Lighthouse Network also offers the free, 24-hour Lighthouse Life Change Helpline toll-free at 1-844-LIFE-CHANGE (1-844-543-3242).

Lighthouse Network’s web site, www.lighthousenetwork.org,provides information to those struggling to find help for their addiction problems, as well as to family members searching for help for a loved one. Topics addressed include alcohol abuse, addictions, and other mental health or life management issues.

Lighthouse Network offers several resources for those struggling with addiction and their families, such as Stepping Stones, a free daily devotional for managing life’s stressors and storms and equipping readers with healthy decision-making skills. Visit www.lighthousenetwork.org/stepping-stones/ to read the devotionals and sign up to receive them daily via email.

For more information on Lighthouse Network, visit www.lighthousenetwork.org or call the Lighthouse Life Change Helpline toll-free at 1-844-LIFE-CHANGE (1-844-543-3242).

To schedule interviews with Dr. Karl Benzio at Lighthouse Network, contact Deborah Hamilton at dhamilton@hamiltonstrategies.com, 215-815-7716 or 610-584-1096.

Lighthouse Network is a Christian-based, non-profit organization that offers an addiction and mental health counseling helpline providing treatment options and resources to equip people and organizations with the skills necessary to shine God’s glory to the world, stand strong on a solid foundation in the storms of their own lives, and provide guidance and safety to others experiencing stormy times, thus impacting their lives, their families and the world.

Karl Benzio, M.D. is the founder and executive director of Lighthouse Network. With a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering, Benzio went on to medical school and then specialized in psychiatry. His experiences include teaching pastors, ministry leaders and students counseling and conflict resolution skills in Uganda and Kenya; leading a behavioral health team into post-Hussein Iraq to equip health care specialists with treatment and assessment skills and successfully testifying for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives opposing legislation for Plan B contraception administration and for President George Bush’s Council on Bioethics regarding Right of Conscience. He is currently a member of Focus on the Family’s Physicians Resource Council. His specialties include Adolescents, Addictions, Decision-Making, Infusing Spirituality into Practical Treatment Modalities and the Ramifications of Decision-Making on Social Policy.

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