Anxiety Management Workshop Posters Stress Students

India Yarborough

With finals quickly approaching, Loyola has promoted the University Counseling Center’s anxiety workshops through a campus-wide email with some tips and resources for students to better handle the end of the semester.

Many students have already made up their minds about the anxiety workshops, based off the posters around campus that are offending the very students they were designed to attract.

The posters are made up of short phrases such as “why worry,” “be mellow” and “chillax.”

“I feel like they’re almost invalidating what anxiety is,” Karina Ramirez, film sophomore, said. “It sounds like someone is commanding you to stop freaking out, and it’s not that easy.”

Ramirez said she has generalized anxiety disorder and that the posters, which feature slogans such as “you must chill” and “stop freaking out,” are insensitive.

Asia Wong, associate director of the University Counseling Center, created the posters and said she tried to keep the messages “clear, clean and straight-forward.”

“The message is simple: if you would like to feel better, come to the workshops and we will try to help you,” Wong said.

Wong said 85 percent of students who participated in the workshops last year reported they had reduced anxiety after just one session.

Marilyn Johnson, music education sophomore, attended several workshops as a freshman and said the leaders gave students exact tools to cope with anxiety, such as sensory and breathing exercises to distract from intense episodes of worry.

Johnson, however, said the posters around school don’t reflect the quality of the workshops.

“The workshops are very helpful, but the way they advertise them doesn’t convey what they’re really about,” she said.

Alicia Bourque, psychologist and director of the University Counseling Center, has been conducting individual therapy sessions with students since 2005 and said there is a big difference between clinical anxiety and everyday stress.

“Clinical anxiety differs from daily stress in that there’s a specific time period that generalized anxiety might occur on a specific day,” Bourque said. “Clinical anxiety is more sustained, chronic and will significantly impair daily quality of function.”

Bourque said people diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder typically cannot control their worry and often experience physical reactions to worry such as difficulty concentrating and muscle tensions.

Abigail Justice, public relations junior, has noticed the posters too and sees how someone would find them offensive. However, Justice thinks they are misinterpreted.

“I think they weren’t targeted toward people with clinical anxiety,” Justice said. “I think they were targeted toward the stresses of students and the stresses of becoming an adult in the world.”

Wong said the posters were created to appeal to a variety of students and that she has not gotten negative feedback from students about the workshops’ advertising but would be happy to consider any concerns.

For Ramirez, the current posters aren’t inviting and do not make her want to attend the anxiety management workshops, but she said with better marketing, she might reconsider.

“I know the intention behind the poster is good, but I think it needs to be redirected a bit,” Ramirez said.

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Wong said the workshops focus on approaches to managing anxiety and teaching coping mechanisms. They are offered Tuesdays and Thursdays each semester from 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m. and are open to all students.