OPINION: USF can do more to help students tackle academic burnout

USF offers resources for most mental health issues, except for one of the most important ones for college students – academic burnout. ORACLE PHOTO/GRANT GONSALVES

Academic burnout is a major concern among students, as more than 80% of college seniors have experienced burnout during their undergraduate career, according to an Aug. 31 study by Handshake.

Burnout can lead to depression, emotional unavailability and other mental and physical illnesses. To combat this, USF’s center of student well-being should have more resources focused on burnout, including group counseling where students can help each other.

Academic burnout is the physical and emotional exhaustion that results from being in a high-demanding environment, according to a Nov. 16 article from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Students going through a regression in their academic performance, constant fatigue and a loss of motivation to study are most likely experiencing burnout according to a 2020 article from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

The most popular majors at USF are psychology, biomedical science, biology and nursing which are categorized as S.T.E.M majors, according to the website Niche. 

Burnout among S.T.E.M. and pre-med students is extremely common due to the amount of stress they experience with their classes, studies and extracurriculars, according to a March 1 article from Inspira Advantage.

Apart from the rigorous required classes taken during undergrad, medical and some graduate schools require their students to engage in hundreds of hours of extracurriculars to strengthen their application, according to a 2020 article by Shemmassian Academic Consulting. 

This amount of work required for students and the stress that it causes is what eventually leads to burnout.

Ali, an anonymous biology and organic chemistry student at the University of Washington, explained how due to the unmanageable workload given by professors, students are sleeping for three hours leading to constant exhaustion in a 2021 article by The Daily of the University of Washington.

This future-focused mindset is easy to fall into as a pre-med or medical student and often ends up hurting us in the form of anxiety and stress,” said medical student Gillian Matthews in a 2021 article on her blog.

Although USF offers individual counseling and provides an article that includes tips on how to deal with stress and depression, such as exercising daily and getting enough sleep, it is not enough to remedy student burnout. 

In addition to these resources, USF should offer group counseling sessions that are made especially for students experiencing academic burnout. Group counseling has been proven to be more effective than individual counseling as it gives people the sense that they are not alone in a situation and have support from multiple people, according to a March 1 article by the American Psychological Association. 

While their website shows that they provide individual counseling for certain symptoms of burnout such as depression, the USF Center for Student Well-being does not currently offer any services that support students specifically experiencing burnout. Instead, USF needs to work on better advertising their services to students with burnout so that they know the best ways to get help.

Seton University provides group counseling sessions that help students find ways to practice mindfulness, which is a common way to combat burnout, according to their website.

Academic burnout is an important issue that has been affecting many students. It is essential that universities like USF take action and support these students through resources that can help them overcome burnout and have a good experience during their undergraduate career.

USF has not been doing enough to help students deal with burnout, one of the biggest mental health concerns experienced in undergraduates. It is essential that they begin to focus their student well-being resources on this issue.