Global Tensions & Personal Insecurities

College is stressful enough, but in these uncertain times it is normal for students to experience increased levels of fear and anxiety. Suffolk has a fleet of helpful services and resources for students to stay informed and successfully address their concerns.

Things to Keep in Mind

After September 11, 2001, the federal government, working through Homeland Security, created a five-level warning system to help Americans understand how likely a terrorist attack might be and to help public safety departments across the country coordinate efforts. The Orange level is the second-highest level, which means that the federal government is specifically concerned about possible terror events. To learn more about this warning system, visit the U.S. Department of the Homeland Security website.

An increased level in the warning system does mean that the government is specifically concerned about acts of terrorism. The nature of terrorism is that terror groups can strike at any time in any place. The random nature of terrorism means that we cannot say who is in specific danger at any time. This randomness is meant as a psychological weapon designed to generate fear among a large group of people. According to statistics, the likelihood that you will be the victim of a terrorist act is actually quite low.

It is important for you to know that key administrators on campus are being proactive and taking logical and sensible steps to ensure campus safety, including the University Police, Dean of Students Office, Residence Life, Health Services, and the Counseling Center. You can help by being aware and cooperating with campus officials, as requested. Make sure you are familiar with any on-campus emergency procedures. You can also help administrators by being aware of your surroundings and reporting anything that seems suspicious or out of the ordinary. Campus officials are trained to respond to a wide variety of scenarios and situations. Letting a campus official know about something suspicious will ensure that the proper authorities are alerted.

It is normal to feel nervous and anxious these days. In addition to regular stresses, (school, work, relationships, etc.) you are hearing about terror alerts and possible war. This additional stress can aggravate existing anxiety, stress, and fear. It is important to acknowledge that these are natural and human reactions that help the body and mind prepare for extreme situations. However, prolonged anxiety can have negative effects on a person's well-being. While today's headlines are frightening and disturbing, it's important that you try to keep things in perspective. Allow your anxiety to direct you into making good and safe choices, so that your anxiety does not become overwhelming.

When someone feels overwhelmed by anxiety, it can lead to negative and destructive behaviors. Some of the warning signs include, but are not limited to:

  • A change in sleeping patterns. Either being unable to sleep or finding yourself always sleeping.
  • Using substances to manage emotions. This includes alcohol, illegal drugs, food, and prescription medication. Craving a substance in order to manage your emotions can be a dangerous behavior.
  • Dramatic mood swings may also be an indicator of overwhelming anxiety.
  • A change in eating behaviors. Like sleep, you might find yourself at one extreme or the other; either eating very little, nothing, or eating large amounts of food.
  • Physical changes. If you find yourself sweating or you feel your heart racing, you may be overwhelmed by anxiety. Sometimes when we feel overly anxious we can feel ill and feel like we require medical attention.

If you are feeling "out of sorts" it's always a good idea to check with a health professional. A good rule of thumb is that a significant change in your typical behavior may be a sign that your anxiety is overwhelming you. If you find yourself making choices you might not normally make, or doing things you might not normally do, you may be reacting to your anxiety. This is a sign that you may need some outside help.

If you feel that anxiety is getting the best of you and negatively affecting your well-being, you can do something about it. Standard stress reduction techniques are always a good idea. These include eating well, exercising, and getting plenty of rest. In general, paying attention to your body and mind and responding to your needs are important. However, if you're experiencing significant behavioral changes it may be helpful to talk with someone about your feelings. Of course, talking to friends and family is a good idea, but it also may be beneficial for you speak with a trained professional.

Sometimes when we are experiencing extreme stress and anxiety it is hard to see the negative behaviors we are inflicting upon ourselves. When this happens we rely on friends and family to help us recognize the situation. If you think one of your friends is having trouble managing his or her anxiety, you can take steps to help. Talking with them is a good idea, (perhaps you can even share this page with them); however, it's also a good idea to inform a campus professional about your friend. Campus professionals can help you decide what's in the best interest of your friend.

Campus Resources for Suffolk University Students

Counseling Center (students only)
73 Tremont Street, 5th Floor
Phone: 617-573-8226 or 617-573-8227
Fax: 617-227-3685

Suffolk's Counseling Center provides free individual, couples, and group counseling to students. Walk-in hours are available on a daily basis from 9:00 a.m. — 5:00 p.m. (Monday — Friday) and after-hours by appointment. All counseling is completely confidential.

Health Services (only students)
73 Tremont Street, 5th Floor
Phone: 617-573-8260

Students can access medical care from a nurse practitioner or be referred to a consulting physician for special needs. Walk-in appointments are available on a daily basis.

Dean of Students Office
73 Tremont Street, 12th Floor
Phone: 617-573-8239

Students can receive assistance for any problems related to their academic programs and to have administrators act as academic advocates at times when personal concerns may affect academic performance.

Sources for the information contained on this page were taken from PaperClip Communications, adapted from: Walia, S. (2002). "Terror alerts, anxiety, and resources" February 24, 2003, from California State University, and Hayward, Counseling and Psychological Services.