UC Berkeley Study Claims Students Suffering Anxiety ‘Epidemic’

FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images
FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images

A new report from UC Berkeley claims that there is a growing “epidemic” of anxiety amongst college students.

UC Berkeley reported earlier this month on a new study by university researchers that concluded that many college students are struggling with anxiety. The research team, led by Professor Richard Scheffler, said that the increased prevalence of anxiety with students aged 16 to 26 qualifies as an “epidemic.”

“It is what I am calling a ‘new epidemic,’ and that the data supports using that term, on college campuses,” Scheffler said in an interview. “We need a heightened national awareness of this very serious epidemic.”

Scheffler’s study suggests that the excessive use of smartphones and other digital devices may lead to an increase in anxiety. The study claims that young adults who spend more than 20 hours of “leisure time” per week on digital devices are 53 percent more likely than those who spend less time on such devices.

“More than half the students were not looking at me, they were looking at their phones or their computers,” Scheffler explained. “I told everyone to turn their phones off and put their computers away. I had four or five students who were so addicted, they could not do it. I actually had to go and take their phones away from them.”

Many experts agree that young Americans face more anxiety than any of the generations that came before them.

“We know that Millennials and GenZ are experiencing anxiety like no previous generation,” Sarah Swanbeck, the executive director of the Berkeley Institute for the Future of Young Americans, said. “While there’s a lot we still don’t know about what’s causing the spike in anxiety disorder, this report highlights that the problem is actually getting worse. It’s an important signal to college administrators that much more must be done to tackle this issue.”

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