Here’s How Syracuse University is Helping Their Students DeStress for Success

College is stressful—and students know it. They’ve been prepping, studying, and cramming their entire academic careers for the chance to attend the university or college of their choice, and the last thing any responsible student wants is to squander the opportunity. Add in new financial burdens, absence of parental oversight, thousands of new schoolmates, and a huge amount of life-altering knowledge, and you’ve got yourself a serious recipe for stress.

That’s why it’s so important that colleges offer programs that help their student body deal with pressure, anxiety, and stress.

The DeStress for Success program was created using materials from The Monday Campaigns’ DeStress Monday concept at the Syracuse University Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion as a response to the rising mental health concerns amongst college students. The Lerner Center staff wanted a flexible program that could help students help themselves to deal with anxiety and stress.

They created a five-week pilot program covering five different areas of wellness: boosting resilience with positive emotions, cultivating mindfulness, strengthening communication skills, utilizing character strengths, and forming healthy habits and goals. The Lerner Center staff supplemented each workshop by developing weekly activities that focused on one of the five areas of wellness.

The curriculum, which can be adopted by any college or university, focuses on teaching simple and accessible relaxation techniques that students can apply in a number of situations. From gratitude journaling to mindfulness to deep breathing, DeStress for Success offers solutions to common college-life problems and challenges. Workshops were held on Mondays—the day people are most likely to engage in healthy behaviors—for a duration of 60 minutes.

As a result of the DeStress for Success pilot program, student participants noted decreased feelings of stress and increased feelings of self-efficacy and overall wellbeing. Based on the positive feedback, the Lerner Center, in collaboration with The Monday Campaigns, developed a guidebook that other universities can use to bring the DeStress for Success program to their student body. As of the 2021 spring semester, a number of additional universities have begun implementing the program with more expressing interest in bringing on a DeStress for Success curriculum in the future. As more universities participate, there’s an opportunity to gather feedback, refine the program and better support students in the future.

For more information or to bring the DeStress for Success program to your college or university, please contact Mary Kate Schutt at Syracuse University.