Worse Than the Great Depression?

Apparently today’s students are experiencing higher levels of anxiety than previous generations, even high school and college students that came of age during the Great Depression. According to an article in USA Today:

A new study has found that.. [more] high school and college students are dealing with anxiety and other mental health issues as youth of the same age who were studied in the Great Depression era.

The findings, culled from responses to a popular psychological questionnaire used as far back as 1938, confirm what counselors on campuses nationwide have long suspected as more students struggle with the stresses of school and life in general.

The validity of this study, which will be published in the Clinical Psychology Review, is a little questionable, in part because in the 1930s (prior to compulsory high school education) those experiencing the greatest economic turmoil wouldn’t be in high school or college at all. They’d be too busy, well, working to feed their families to be able to participate in the survey. But the author suggests that it’s not that students now face greater objective economic trouble than in the past so much as students in 2010 have greater expectations of wealth, expectations they’re unlikely to meet in the current economy.

The study, by San Diego State psychology professor Jean Twenge, indicates that five times as many high school and college students suffer from anxiety problems now than in 1938.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer