As Binghamton University students prepare for finals week, mental health can become a cause for concern.
As the fall semester comes to a close, finals week is approaching, with exams being administered from Dec. 10 to Dec. 17. Many students report having higher amounts of stress and anxiety during this time, with 31 percent of students in the U.S. crediting finals and midterms as their top source of stress, according to Pew Research Center. In an effort to help students manage their stress and anxiety, multiple mental health resources are offered across campus that students are encouraged to use should they experience any form of distress.
Mark Rice, clinical director of the University Counseling Center (UCC), shared his advice on how students can manage stress during finals week, recommending students practice positive and encouraging “self-talk,” and avoid negative or pressuring “self-talk.”
Rice discussed how students can manage the workload of finals week.
“Do what you can, and let the rest go,” Rice wrote in an email. “This means being realistic about what you can do and committing to doing it. It also means recognizing what is out of your control or beyond your capacity, then [practicing] letting that go or letting it be.”
Henley Verhagen, president of Support Empathy Empowerment Kindness (SEEK) and a senior majoring in psychology, said students should make time to take care of themselves during the stressful week, which could mean eating or doing something enjoyable. Verhagen wrote that she is happy to see students collaborating, studying together and reaching out to each other for help throughout the week.
“Community and social support can be extremely beneficial in a high-stress environment, so it always warms my heart to see classmates making connections and tackling their exams together,” Verhagen wrote in an email.
SEEK is a mental health service on campus that students can use from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. while school is in session. BU students can privately meet and talk with a peer at SEEK about their concerns. They also have a non-emergency helpline for students, and can be reached at 607-777-HELP (4357) from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Ryan Yarosh, the senior director of media and public relations for BU, said he encourages students to devote time to relaxation. One way to do so is through the Health Promotion and Prevention Services (HPPS), a BU learning community that enables student well-being to optimize their success.
“I would very much encourage students to make sure they take some time out for self-care, unwind and recharge whenever possible,” Yarosh wrote. “Try a group fitness class or one of the many offerings hosted by the Stress-Free Bing team. ”
Stress-free Bing, offered by the Dean of Students, hosts resources, events, food and activities from Dec. 1 to Dec. 16 — aimed at providing fun and reducing stress as students prepare for their finals, according to its website.
Sarah Abraham, a freshman majoring in biochemistry, said she manages her mental health during finals by taking breaks from studying to avoid feeling overwhelmed, and making sure she sets time aside to do something she likes.
“I also make sure to see friends and spend time doing something that I love whenever I feel stressed,” Abraham said.
Elsa Hardt, a freshman majoring in mechanical engineering, explained that she is planning on avoiding procrastination during finals week by making a schedule to practice good time management.
“I would definitely say maintaining time management plays a huge role in staying in a productive mindset,” Hardt wrote. “I have a tendency to procrastinate on things, which ends up making me stressed about work loads. For finals I want to create a schedule for assignments and studying but also make sure I make time for myself to relax.”
The Consultation, Assessment, Referral and Education team (CARE) is part of the University’s Office of the Dean of Students. Their goal is to provide comprehensive case management services for students who have personal struggles, are in distress or could benefit from additional support or resources, according to the CARE team webpage. For concerns that are not time-sensitive or following a crisis, a referral to the CARE team can be made by filling out the form here.
With finals week a week away, Verhagen emphasized the importance of focusing on self-care.
“Exams can be so incredibly stressful, so much so that it actually becomes difficult to remember to make time to take care of yourself,” Verhagen said. “Take time to do something nice for yourself, because you and your mental health matter.”