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High angle shot of an unidentified young female student looking stressed while studying in the library - stock photo

Reducing stress is students’ No. 1 health goal in a new Student Voice survey that asked about stress, mental health and physical wellness.

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Three in four students say that stress is negatively impacting their ability to focus, learn and do well in school, according to the newest Student Voice survey from Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse, which focused on health and wellness.

Fielded from April through early this month, the survey asked a nationally representative sample of 3,000 two- and four-year college students questions about their experiences with stress, mental health, physical wellness and related campus services. Read on for a first look at the results, with more findings and analysis to come.

The survey also asked students who they think is responsible for helping them address stress and mental health issues, to gauge student expectations on this topic. Four in 10 students—the largest share—say professors should play a role in alleviating stress.

What’s stressing students out the most in terms of academics? Exams top the list of options.

Regarding mental health, students appear to expect much of faculty members here, as well: 45 percent of students say that campus counselors aside, professors bear a responsibility to help students struggling with mental health. Why, and what actions do they want professors to take? (Again, this question is to gauge student expectations, not to assert that professors have such a responsibility—and professors have mixed views on this topic.)

Initial survey results also raise potential concerns about whether students are sufficiently engaging with mental health services. While one in two respondents rates their mental health as poor or fair (versus excellent, good or not sure), 60 percent of these students haven’t used any of their colleges’ mental health offerings.

Most students say they know where to seek help on campus if they or a friend are experiencing a mental health crisis, however.

Beyond stress and mental health, half of students say their physical health and wellness are negatively impacting their academic success somewhat or great deal. Relatively more two-year college students than four-year students say this, at 57 percent versus 48 percent, respectively.

Asked about their overall health goals, students again flag stress: nearly three in four students say they want to reduce stress, making this the No. 1 wellness objective, ahead of eating a healthier diet, getting more sleep, increasing physical activity and more.

This is a first look at the broader Student Voice survey results on health and wellness. What’s notable or surprising to you? What would you like to hear more about? What is your campus doing to promote student health and wellness? Share your reactions, tips and questions here. We may publish some of your responses or connect for further coverage.

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