If chronic stress is ignored for long enough, it can eventually lead to mental and physical breakdowns and even depression. The effects of stress only get worse as time goes on so the most effective interventions are those that begin early. This is most likely to happen when the underlying causes of stress, as well as the warning signs, are understood properly, both by the students themselves and by the faculty.
Faculty and students should also be careful not to dismiss situations where some level of stress is expected. For example, everyone is stressed during exams, and this can make it a lot easier to miss the warning signs regarding one particular student. It is easy for an individual’s symptoms to be missed or ignored in such a situation. This is a time where the faculty should be at its most alert, and ready to offer help and counseling to those students who might need it.
At the same time, stress is not always a bad thing. Oftentimes, just the right amount of stress will encourage a student to study more or to try harder. The stress caused by knowing that they need a passing grade on their next test in order to pass a class, for example, might determine a student to stay up and study the night before when, normally, they might have gone out with friends. As the University of Georgia (1) defines it, this is something called positive stress. It adds short-term tension to the body that provides it with an additional burst of adrenaline in order to overcome a certain challenge.