Academic journal article College Student Journal

The Development of the Student Stressors and Emotional Disturbance Scale

Academic journal article College Student Journal

The Development of the Student Stressors and Emotional Disturbance Scale

Article excerpt

It is well established in the literature that the years spent in university or college are deemed to be one of the most stressful periods of life (Hales, 2009). As a result, researchers are striving to create inventories to measure stress, isolate the determinants of stress and the psychological and health outcomes. The purpose of the present study was to not only to develop a scale which identified those domains which appear to be the sources of stress for college students but also to determine the consequences or outcomes of the experienced stress. The data collected from approximately 1200 college and university students yielded very interesting results in the form of a two-factor Student Stressors and Emotional Distress Scale (SSEDS) which identified (a) sources of student stress and, (b) outcomes of student stress in the form of emotional disturbances. As with previous studies, the sources of stress include, finances, school, leisure activities, self-image, body image, family, friends, living arrangements and quality of sleep. Emotional outcomes included, tiredness, nervousness, hopelessness, sadness, depression, effort and worthlessness. The psychometric properties of the scale are examined.

Introduction

Most of us look back on our college years as the best of times, a time of personal and intellectual growth, and newly found freedom from the supervision and structure of our childhood home. Ironically however, the college years have also been determined to be one of the most stressful periods of a person's life (Hales, 2009). For many students it is the first time that they are responsible for the management of their own lives (Cress & Lampman, 2007; Darling et al., 2007). Developmental psychology deems the young adult college student's age group (18-24) as "emerging adulthood" even though society may perceive them as adults (Arnett, 2004). This transitional period from home to independent living can be very stressful and anxiety provoking given the pressure to develop the skills needed to be self- sufficient.

College students perceive stressors along multiple dimensions including, academic, financial, social, sexual demands and sleep deprivation (Weckwerth & Flynn, 2006; Denovan & Macaskill, 2013; Rocha-Singh, 1994). The increasingly competitive environment concerning employment after graduation has also led to increased stress and higher levels of depression (Dusselier, et al., 2005). Appetite disturbances, concentration problems and depression have also been associated with the difficult transition from high school to college (Lee et al., 2009). For many students, the academic demands of meeting grades requirements, exams and managing their time has been a significant source of stress and potentially damaging to a student's mental health (Kumaraswamy, 2013; Crocker and Luhtanen, 2003) but with the ever increasing demands to obtain a post secondary degree, those stressors are only likely to increase. With the rising cost of obtaining that post secondary degree, many studies have found that financial struggles are a primary source of stress for students (Dusselier et al., 2005; Cronce & Corbin, 2010). Not surprisingly, Eisenberg et al. (2007) found that students lacking financial stability were more likely to display symptoms of depression and anxiety.

The level of stress experienced by college students has grown significantly over the past 30 years (Prichard, et al., 2007; Mackenzie et al., 2011) and therefore, it is not surprising to see that reports of the frequency and severity of mental health problems reported by college students are also increasing (ACHA, 2005). Failure at managing the stress that results from the inability to meet these new challenges has been found to be associated with depression, poor college adjustment and general life dissatisfaction (Newman & Newman, 2008; Verschoor & Markus, 2011; Crede & Niehorster, 2012) and even more alarming are reports of increased rates of depression and suicide (Floyd, et al. …

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