College is supposed to be the time of your life, right? How many times has someone older than you told you “to enjoy it while you can.” Well, add this expectation and pressure to “enjoy” to existing ones like grades and homesickness. Which begs the question, “What is the status of mental health on college campuses?”
By The Numbers: Mental Health on College Campuses
USA Today wrote a sobering piece about the potential crisis of mental illness on college campuses. This piece included very dire numbers.
- Approximately 42,773 Americans commit suicide every year, many of whom are college students.
- One in every 12 U.S. college students makes a suicide plan, according to National Data on Campus Suicide and Depression.
- More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from all other medical illnesses combined
- 5 percent of students reported feeling hopeless in the past year.
- 5 percent of students reported feeling lonely—a common a common indicator of depression—in the in the past year.
- Two-thirds of students who are struggling do not seek treatment, according to the American College Health Association’s Spring 2015 assessment.
Different Report, Same Concerns
Other mental health concerns on college campuses are revealed in the The Center for Collegiate Mental Health’s 2015 Annual Report, which represents a decade of work focusing on mental health on college campuses.
In addition to describing more than 100,000 college students seeking mental health services in 2014- 2015, this year’s report also summarizes mental health trends across five full academic years (2010-2011 through 2014-2015).
The following numbers represent key findings in the report. These findings refer to students seen in counseling centers, unless otherwise specified:
Three types of self-reported distress have demonstrated slow but consistent growth over the past five years including: Depression, anxiety, and social anxiety.
One-in-eight student clients said sleep was a problem for them, a rate that is 30 percent higher than those needing help for alcohol, and almost three times the rate of students who needed help from counseling centers to overcome drug abuse.
The lifetime prevalence rate for self-injury has increased over the last five years from 21.8 percent to 25.0 percent.
Stable Areas of Mental Health on College Campuses
The lifetime prevalence rates for prior mental health treatment have remained quite stable over the past five years including prior counseling (1 in 2), prior psychiatric medications (1 in 3), and prior psychiatric hospitalizations (1 in 10).
Some types of self-reported distress and mental health history variables have remained very stable or even decreased slightly over the last five years, including academic distress, eating concerns, hostility, substance abuse, and family distress.
Issues of mental health on college campuses impact students’ ability to succeed:
- Almost one third of all college students report having felt so depressed that they had trouble functioning.
- Mental health issues in the college student population, such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders, are associated with lower GPA and higher probability of dropping out of college.
- More than 80 percent of college students felt overwhelmed by all they had to do in the past year and 45 percent have felt hopeless.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Independence. Hooray! Some students may have a difficult time adjusting to their new routines and environment, all while juggling their schoolwork and social lives.
Here are some of the ways you can recognize the need for help and take care of your mental health during your journey.
- Don’t be so ready to blame the feelings of depression or anxiety on the pressures of classes and homework. Reflect upon the depth and persistence of these feelings and seek help.
- Many universities provide psychological counseling services, but only an estimated 10 percent of college students seek professional help. Don’t be one of the 90 percent.
- According to the student health center at West Virginia University, many students may not seek help for fear of being labeled as “crazy” or “weak.” Protecting your mental health is a sign of strength.
- Don’t get bogged down by social stigmas. Contact your university’s counseling services to see what kind of help they can provide.
College can be the best of times and the worst of times, but it shouldn’t be dreadfully overwhelming. Don’t overlook the need to take care of your emotional health during your pursuit to graduate. Asking for help can be extremely difficult, but it’s never the wrong thing to do.