Book Review: The Stressed Years of Their Lives

Our students are stressed more than ever before. Families preparing their students to attend college have a variety of books and other media to provide advice and practical information about their student's transition and how to help them prepare. As higher education has turned to a greater focus on mental health and wellness, families also want to understand how they can help prepare their students and help if something goes wrong. The Stressed Years of Their Lives by B. Janet Hibbs and Anthony Rostain provides knowledge and advice for families as they prepare for college and their student's college career.

While many students may be academically prepared to attend college, many are not socially or emotionally ready to thrive. The book discusses how families can work with their student during the college search process to promote mature autonomy. Each one is important for college and beyond. The authors also discuss the barriers students face that may impede success as they battle belonging to their new home, the fear of not making it, or financial stressors. Each topic discussion provides practical tips and full explanations of each topic to help the reader understand the importance of each and how it plays into a student's overall experience and the road to success.

As more students enter college with a previous diagnosis of anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues, families need to understand how to help prepare themselves and their student for college. Many often think "not my child" and are unprepared for a possible problem. Through the lens of one of the authors' own experiences, families are guided through how to help manage a student as they may need to transfer their care and how to take advantage of on-campus resources. Additionally, the book is frank about signs to look for in a student if they are struggling. No family wants to think about a student being ill, failing, or needing to take time off. Through her own experience, Dr. Hibbs discusses how she and her family worked with their student, helped them manage taking time off and returning to college. Each chapter is honest in multiple approaches to handling mental health issues in students and how a family can approach the situation to best help a student.

From the perspective of how to help students prepare for college to how to help them through mental health struggles, The Stressed Years of Their Lives is a valuable resource for professionals and families. The book can be a valuable resource as you look to add to your suggested reading list for families or add to your knowledge to assist families.

Lindsey Bray is the Director of Parent & Family Programs at Cornell University and a member of the AHEPPP Board of Directors.

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