the schmooze

Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

Note:  The Yiddish word for “university” is “universitet.”
“di eytsn” means “to counsel”; “krankayt” means “illness.”

One day in diapers, the next heading off to college.

My late husband, Howard, worked at the Counseling Center of a Long Island university for 25 years.  He was aware that entering college ranked as one of the top 25 stressful life-changing events on most scales of psychological measure.

He spoke of students who had to deal with homesickness, academic pressures, sorority/fraternity problems, broken relationships, “panic (“panik”) attacks,” and “helicopter parents.”

At Stanford, we hear the expression, “Duck Syndrome”:
A duck appears to glide calmly across the water, while beneath the surface it frantically, relentlessly paddles.

The American Psychological Association reports that about one-third of U. S. college students had difficulty functioning in the last 12 months due to depression/sadness (“more shkhoyre”), and almost half said they felt overwhelming anxiety (“umru”) in the last year.  Getting a “B” can cause some students to fall apart.

Students are experiencing eating disorders, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, gambling and suicide attempts.  The effectiveness of newer medications have made it possible for many students with serious psychological disabilities to attend college, who would not have been able to in the past.

Other statistics are even more alarming:  More than 30% of students who seek services for mental health issues report that they have seriously considered attempting suicide (“zelbstmord”) at some point in their lives.

Louise Douce, PhD, wrote, “For students to be able to learn at their peak capacity, they need to be physically,emotionally, intellectually and spiritually well (“gezunt”).
People who struggle (“gerangl”) are more likely to drop out of school, but by providing services for their anxiety, depression and relationship issues, we can help them manage these issues, focus on their academics and learn new ways to be in the world (“di velt”).”   
(Source:  “Students under pressure,” by Amy Novotney,, September 2014)

Dr. Kipp Pietrantonio, a clinical psychologist, wrote about a student who complained that  if his friend doesn’t text him right back; she hates him.  Perhaps the student must reframe the catastrophic thoughts.  Pietrantonio says, in more logical ways—maybe she’s studying. 

Perhaps advising students to tackle anxiety by exercising, and getting enough sleep, might help, too.

Therapists suggest that the increased demand for counseling-center services, may be due to the economy, rising cost of tuition, the social media, and the so-called helicopter-parenting style that doesn’t allow students to experience failure (“durkhfaln”). 
(Source:  “College Students Flood Mental-Health Centers,” by Andrea Petersen, WSJ, Oct. 10, 2016)

Brandeis University’s Counseling Center offers counseling for stress/anxiety, academic problems, homesickness and loneliness (“elnt”), suicidal thoughts, identity issues, and coping with natural disasters, catastrophe, and terrorism.  The Counseling Center maintains the strictest standards of privacy.  No information (“informatsye”) about a student’s contact is released without the knowledge and written consent of the student.  Exceptions to this rule occur only the student is considered a direct threat to him/herself or others.

Visits from Therapy Dogs help Stern College students unwind around midterms.

One of the most tragic stories about the need for college mental-health centers was a 2012 incident that happened at Rutgers University in New Jersey.  An 18-year-old freshman, Tyler Clementi, jumped from the George Washington Bridge in an apparent suicide on Sept. 22. This occurred after one of his private sexual encounters with another male was video streamed over the Internet without his knowledge.  His roommate had sent out Twitter messages encouraging others to watch.

The roommate was tried and convicted of intimidation and invasion of privacy.  He served a short sentence.  This was a talented (“talantirt”) violinist whose life was cut short.

In 2003-2004, five New York University students leapt to their death.  Six Penn students committed suicide in a 13-month stretch, and Tulane lost four students.  Cornell faced six suicides in the 2009-10 academic year.

Perhaps Bill Cosby was right when he said, “For college seniors, there should be a week of being allowed to cry. Just break down and cry because you are scared and don’t know what’s next.”


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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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