AbstractsSocial Work

Stress, Anxiety Symptomology, and the Need for Student Support Services for University Freshmen of First-Generation Status, Low-SES Backgrounds, and those Registered with Disabilities

by Kelly Dale Allison

Institution: Louisiana State University
Department: Social Work
Degree: MSW
Year: 2015
Keywords: disability; stress; Student Support Services; university; college; anxiety; low-income; higher education; first-generation college students
Record ID: 2058593
Full text PDF: http://etd.lsu.edu/docs/available/etd-04132015-155341/


Three populations of concern for professional social workers in higher educational settings include first-generation college students (FGCSs), students from low socio-economic (low-SES) backgrounds, and students with disabilities. As the national demand for degrees in higher education rises both socially and economically, the push for young adults postsecondary success becomes increasingly crucial. In college and university settings, a significant portion of students may be classified as FGCSs, low-SES, or may be registered with a disability. Examining these vulnerable populations within higher education settings, particularly regarding stress and anxiety symptomology, can help social workers recognize the social, developmental, and academic inhibitions that mental health factors have on these student populations and help promote programs within higher education settings that support these students social and academic success. By assessing stress and anxiety levels among FGCSs, students of low-SES, and students with disabilities, this study will build upon what is already known surrounding stress and anxiety within young adults, higher education students, and vulnerable student populations. Stress and anxiety levels were evaluated within three student populations including: students of FGCS status, low-SES students, and students with disabilities. Stress was assessed using the Perceived Stress Scale (Cohen, 1988), and anxiety was assessed using the Overall Anxiety Severity And Impairment Scale (Norman, Cissell, Means-Christensen, & Stein, 2006). Results showed that FGCSs, low-SES students, and students with disabilities had stress levels that are much higher than average and had anxiety levels that are just below the threshold for an anxiety diagnosis. These results have implications for future research, education policy, and social work practice.