Mental Health in College

Mental Health in College

Attending college is a stressful time for many students because of the need to cope with the increased academic pressure, living alone or with roommates, separation from family for the first time and for some some having to work.

This unique environment leads to mental health problems being very common among college students. Traditional students who are typically younger are forced into more adult-like responsibilities such as working, being in significant relationships, having roommates, living alone and developing their own belief systems. For nontraditional students who are older, they have to cope with work, family, increased academic requirements and may have dependents. For these reasons many college students experience the persistence, exacerbation, or first onset of mental health and substance use problems during college. In most cases college students receive inadequate treatment if at all. 

Most mental health disorders peak during young adulthood with a majority being observed before age 25 years old. Within this time frame about 75% will have their first episode. Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent among college students with approximately 12%. Other mental disorders include depression, stress, substance use, PTSD and obsessive-compulsive disorder. A significant problem among college students is suicide. It is the third leading cause of death among young adults. Most students with suicidal ideation do not seek treatment so it is imperative that we implement screening strategies to identify individuals in need and provide the necessary treatment. 

A survey conducted by Boston University of nearly 33,000 college students reveals the prevalence of depression and anxiety in young people is continuing to increase reaching its highest level ever. According to Sarah Ketchen Lipson, a mental health researcher, half of the students in Fall 2020 screened positive for depression and/or anxiety with 83% reporting that their mental health negatively impacted their academic performance within the past month. A main factor that has contributed to this increased stress and anxiety includes Covid-19 pandemic and the need for social distancing. 

This article reviewed by Ms. Deb Dooley.

There’s nothing more important than our good health – that’s our principal capital asset.

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