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How parents can help college students get through increased stress

Coping with anxiety and stress on campus
Helping college students cope with an epidemic of anxiety and stress on campus 05:57

As recent high school graduates get ready for college, they may face more stress than ever before. Psychologist B. Janet Hibbs, co-author of "The Stressed Years of Their Lives," said parents can help them prepare.

Dr. Hibbs told CBSN one reason why people are so stressed is because this generation of college students and recent graduates are facing a moment of "historic swerve." Dating back to 9/11, she said teens have been confronted by the war on terror, climate change, along with economic and political uncertainty. That has led them to believe the world is a harsher, more competitive place.

"A third of all graduate students today aren't even working in jobs that require a college degree, which also leads them to a sense of the fear of failure that anytime they step off a linear path, then, kind of their future is ruined. So it heightens that sense of doom and gloom and fear," Hibbs said.

She also points to an increased focus on academics. Parents and educators want to make sure students are prepared for higher education. But that doesn't mean they are emotionally ready, so many students will experience even temporary stepacks as "catastrophic."

Hibbs recommends parents have an honest conversation with their kids about their time in school. She said they can ask, "How are you coping? What happens when you have a setback? Who do you turn to? What kinds of things are you doing? Do you share? Do you seek help?"

But Hibbs said parents also need to look inwards.

"Long run I really encourage parents to recognize that part of these very rapid social changes have affected them and they have to manage their own anxiety by not hyper-controlling their children. Which is what many parents tend to do because they themselves are fearful for their children's future," Hibbs said.

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