“I Can’t Get Distracted with Stupid Things Like Being in Love”: Students’ Perceptions of Stress and Support in an Academically Demanding University in Mexico

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Research suggests that students in academically demanding programs perceive higher levels of stress when compared to their peers. However, extant literature has largely overlooked sources of stress and support in academically demanding universities in Mexico. This study explores university students’ perceptions of an academically demanding public university in Mexico to understand what characteristics students identify as stressors and whether and how their university supports their mental health. This article draws on data from two rounds of semi-structured interviews with ten students from the university. The findings show that the main stressors students identified come from the academic responsibilities required to stay or succeed in the university; and from the expectations from others, which pressure students to act a certain way to feel a sense of belonging at the institution. Students reported feeling supported by economic aid and peers. However, they expressed feeling a lack of empathy, validation, and support from professors when they are in distress. The findings also show that students do not find the university’s mental health services helpful. Instead, they seek help from private psychologists, family, or friends in times of distress. This study makes recommendations on how to create open and trusting communication channels between students and faculty. It also invites higher education institutions to reevaluate their vision of academic excellence and reflect on the cost it might have on students’ well-being if students are not supported to thrive in their university environment.


Type of resource text
Date created August 2022
Date modified December 5, 2022
Publication date August 1, 2022


Author Alvarez Vidaña, María José


Subject Mexico
Subject Higher education
Subject Academic stress
Subject Student support
Subject Academic excellence
Subject Mental health services
Subject Stanford Graduate School of Education International Education Policy Analysis
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User agrees that, where applicable, content will not be used to identify or to otherwise infringe the privacy or confidentiality rights of individuals. Content distributed via the Stanford Digital Repository may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC).

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Alvarez Vidaña, M. (2022). “I Can’t Get Distracted with Stupid Things Like Being in Love”: Students’ Perceptions of Stress and Support in an Academically Demanding University in Mexico. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at https://purl.stanford.edu/zx670rm1357


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