Even psychology majors get stressed out sometimes. As the college students work toward their degrees, their stress levels increase – often leading to insomnia, anxiety or depression – according to Quyen Tiet, Ph.D., a psychologist with a practice in Los Altos.
Tiet, also a graduate professor and researcher at Alliant International University, said he was once a stressed-out grad student at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He recalled being overworked and at “the bottom of the totem pole, in a way,” which led him to begin his research on the stress levels of psychology students.
Now Tiet sees the effects of stress and overwork in his students.
“You are looking at people working, on average, over 50-60 hours per week, which isn’t normal,” he said.
On top of their schoolwork, students are balancing at least 20 hours of clinical work, he added, leading to a highly stressful and unhealthy lifestyle.
“When they get stressed,” Tiet said, “sometimes they can’t sleep. … They can get physical and emotional problems.”
Tiet hopes his study will shed some light on the stress epidemic.
He recently received a grant from the Alliant Educational Foundation for $6,100 to pursue his research. Valin Brown, foundation CEO, said “the idea was to essentially … allow faculty members across the campuses to be able to dream a little bit … specifically to propose innovative programs or research … that would improve their ability to serve students.”
Tiet’s was one of seven research proposals that received funding from the foundation, Brown added, and among the highest-scoring proposals of those accepted.
The International Review Board, an administrative board that checks the ethicality of all research projects, is in the process of approving Tiet’s study. If approved, Tiet said he is ready to collect data through a self-reporting survey he plans to give his students at Alliant’s San Francisco campus.
Tiet described the survey as “straightforward,” and noted that “people are very accurate in reporting their stress levels.”
As for those struggling with stress, Tiet offered some advice. aWhen people have trouble controlling their stress and emotions, he suggested they “turn it around … become the actor, not the receiver, of (their) emotions.” This can help people actively combat their stress, he added, instead of passively being crushed by its weight.
“This is not something that (people) need to suffer in silence,” he said.