The Bulletin Guide to Handling Stress in College

By the editors of the Barnard Bulletin

Amidst our hundred-page readings, lengthy problem sets, performance troupe rehearsals, club e-board meetings, on-campus jobs, off-campus internships, and the many, many other responsibilities that Barnard students find themselves jotting into their agendas, stress grows naturally—and abundantly. And while sometimes we can quell our jitters with a sip of mint tea or an hour-long yoga class, stress isn’t always something that’s so easy manage.

College can be a difficult experience. It may be your first time living away from home. Classes may be more rigorous than you expected. Or maybe it’s been tough trying to frantically find a friend group after forced social interactions during NSOP—we’ve all been there. And whether you’re a first-year or a senior, it’s important to know that there is nothing wrong with reaching out for help if you need it. That’s why we’ve put together this list of resources on campus for easing stress, treating anxiety, and assisting with any kind of mental health treatment.

Your time on campus should be a happy one, and there are people here who are always available to let you know you’re not alone. Don’t be afraid to reach out, and be well.

Nightline Peer Listening

Whether your roommate is out when you desperately need her advice or you simply don’t know who to talk to, Nightline offers an anonymous, nonjudgmental peer listening service from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. every night. “No problem is too big or small,” says the student-run organization – meaning that you are worthy of a kind listener no matter what your problem may be.

You don’t have to worry about your problems being divulged, though. Nightline listeners are committed to anonymity through their academic careers. Callers also don’t have to identify themselves, and Nightline phones don’t have caller ID—so you don’t need to be concerned about someone recognizing your number. Sometimes you just need someone to listen for a while, and Nightline will always be an open resource for that. Call 212-854-7777 to chat.

Furman Counseling Center

An invaluable resource to students, the Furman Counseling center at Barnard provides a variety of mental health services to students and faculty. Listening hours are free, confidential drop-in sessions with a counselor. On Mondays in Plimpton and Thursdays in Eliot from 7:00-9:30 p.m., students can simply sit down with a therapist to discuss whatever happens to be troubling them: a stressful exam, a fight with their partner, etc. These sessions are also a convenient opportunity for students who are considering going to regular sessions at Furman.

During short-term individual counseling appointments, students and therapists discuss the student’s issues such as depression and anxiety, and approaches to alleviate it. All you need to do to schedule an initial appointment is call Furman for a screening. For long-term treatment, therapists can refer students to professionals in the area. Group therapy is also available at Furman, where students can discuss issues troubling them in a safe environment.

Go Ask Alice

Another useful source of support at Columbia is Go Ask Alice!, a health Q&A internet resource. Founded in 1993, Alice is not actually a person, but a team of health professionals and research specialists. The site addresses a wide spectrum of health questions, from emotional to physical to sexual. If you have a health inquiry, odds are it’s already on Ask Alice. If not, you can post your question anonymously on the site and member of the Columbia University health team will answer it.

There is also a list of resources for managing health-related issues. The referrals include both on-campus sources, and local ones in the Morningside neighborhood.

Ask Alice is a great resource for students if you just have a question or are seeking some general health advice. Note, however, that Ask Alice provides health information, not medical advice or diagnoses. 


Leave it to Barnard to develop a program that caters to every facet of female wellness – from sexual health to sound minds and everything in between. Dedicated to a holistic approach to health—a practice that integrates the brain, the spirit, and the body – Well-Woman offers services that promotes the gradual growth of every Barnard student. Well-Woman is the place to go if you need to be reminded that complete wellness is a process, something that may begin at Barnard, but ultimately spans years after graduation.

Well-Woman operates out of 119 Reid Hall, where the program offers regular walk-in office hours. Whether it’s to chat with a staff member by day, or peer educator (a trained Barnard student) by night, Well-Woman is resource ready with plenty of take-home literature available. Peer educators also host workshops that concentrate on a myriad of topics: safer sex, healthy eating, stress reduction, body image, etc. Talk to your RA about requesting a Well-Woman program as a floor activity—peer educators frequently host workshops in the residence halls! Pro tip: Well-Woman offers free contraception (condoms, diaphragms, and lubricant) just outside their office doors! And even if you’re feeling well enough, swing by their office anyway for a cup of tea and a moment of peace.


When you’ve got a ten-page paper due in 24 hours, a problem set due in 10 hours, and a nervous breakdown due to set in any minute now, who you gonna call? Obviously Stressbusters – a team of Columbia University students who offer back rubs and stress management skills in times of acute academic distress. You’ll find the Stressbuster team pop-up in Butler Library during reading week of both the Fall and Spring semesters, but they also host “Wind Down Wednesdays” in the Lerner East Ramp Lounge every Wednesday from 4 to 5 p.m. The best part about Stressbusters is that they understand you (because they are you). Stressbuster student volunteers have needed the back rub and the advice, too, and are great friends and resources when everything becomes a bit too much.

Stressbusters is available by request, and can provide anxiety-reducing services at your club’s next event. For more information, visit www.health.columbia.edu/stressbusters or email stressbusters@columbia.edu. 

Photography by Sharon Wu, art direction by Carina Hard & Jordana Roat, modeling by Tashi Lama, illustration by Letty DiLeo