In schools there is always talk about how people with learning disabilities need extra assistance from teachers and staff. These students sometimes get special help on assignments and tests that other students don’t. Amongst the students that don’t get the same assistance are students with anxiety disorders. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders affect 18 percent of the adult American population. There are students here at Whitworth who also struggle with anxiety disorders. One student with an anxiety disorder, who will be named Jane Doe, shared her experience here at Whitworth. For Doe, living in a large dorm is unimaginable. “Anything bigger than Stewart would freak me out.” People with anxiety disorders have trouble being in a large or loud dorm. Too many people, too bright of lights or too much sound can trigger a panic attack. Stewart and the Village are great places for students with anxiety. There are a limited amount of people in these dorms and they tend to keep to themselves. If there weren’t dorms at this size available for students, Whitworth could potentially lose students with anxiety who are interested in going here.
There needs to be a diversity of dorms that can supply the diverse needs of students. For instance, right now the Village dorms have about 18 people each. Slightly larger you have Boppell at 84 and Ballard at 62. Then there are the two largest: East with 170 and Warren with 215. The large range of numbers of residents leaves the students with the ability to pick what fits their need. For a student with anxiety, the best number would probably be no more than 50 residents in the building.
Going to the Hixson Union Building for dinner is also a challenge. Doe is too nervous to eat by herself or in front of people who don’t know her that well.
“When I eat I can just feel people’s eyes on me. I get paranoid and assume that they are going to judge me.” Luckily, Doe has a good group of friends who she eats meals with. If she didn’t have these friends she probably wouldn’t eat.
“The first few days of school this year before I met people, I didn’t eat. When I thought about going alone my heart began to race and my palms began to sweat,” she said.
Having community in the dorms is also necessary when supporting people with anxiety. People with anxiety can easily have breakdowns which can end in depression, isolation, self injury or eating disorders. Thankfully, Whitworth has a great team of RAs who make sure people are enjoying their time in the residence halls and provide support to those in need.
The classroom is also a tough place for people with anxiety to be.
“I study hard for every test but when they put the test down in front of me I feel like the room is spinning and that everything I studied is swirling out of my head.”
Whitworth needs to ask its students if they struggle with anxiety in order to provide them with the support and assistance they need. Knowing which students have anxiety will not only help professors offer academic assistance but the professors will also know not to call on that student randomly in class.
“I’m too nervous to ask someone where I can get help or to tell my professors that I have horrible anxiety. I wish there was something that I could just check a box and someone would come to me and offer help. Until then, I am just going to try and make it on my own,” Doe said.
Whitworth needs to inform the students of where they can get help and reach out to those who need it. Whitworth is a wonderful institution full of great people who are caring and gentle enough to be mentors to these students. A program should be started for students with anxiety so that people like Doe can get more out of their Whitworth education.
Graphic art by Eli Smith
Barnes is a freshman majoring in English and secondary education. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.