by Amanda Sladky, a Doxa counselor
College is “the best four years of your life!” Or, at least that is what people say…
College can be a really great time, as well as, a really devastating time for some people. The reality is that mental health issues have increased in college students in the past decade. More and more, students are struggling with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
With awareness, information, and the right resources, there is hope for a great college experience while caring for yourself in the ways you need.
Why are Mental Health Issues rising in College Students?
Over the past decade, mental health professionals and scientists have seen an increase in mental health issues in college students. Why?
There are a lot of moving factors, but I think one of the biggest is the pressure. Just the fact that you have left home and are caring for yourself in a new way is stressful and added pressure. Then there are increased standards in academics. There are increased social pressures, then add the social pressure of social media on top of that. The pressure to succeed post-graduation, knowing that a bachelor’s degree doesn’t even secure you a job anymore.
Then there is the stress of paying for college, which is more expensive. Housing is also significantly more expensive right now. And I would be foolish to not mention how experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic the past three years has affected many people’s mental health as well.
Maybe you are living on your own for the first time and learning a lot about yourself. Maybe things from your past are now coming to the surface and it surprises you or you don’t know what to do with it.
The pressures students are feeling are huge, and the stress can oftentimes feel unbearable.
The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds has been a helpful resource for me as I learn more and more about what my clients might be facing. Here are some statistics that they share in an article called “The College Mental Health Crisis: A Call for Cultural change – Part 2”:
Mental health issues are increasingly prevalent among college students:
- Almost half of college students had a psychiatric disorder in the past year
- 73% of students experience some sort of mental health crisis during college
- Almost 1/3 of college students report having felt so depressed that they had trouble functioning
- Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders and substance use are associated with lower GPA and higher probability of dropping out of college
- More than 80% of college students felt overwhelmed by all they had to do in the past year and 45% have felt things were hopeless
- 20% of female students report sexual assault or threatened sexual assault according to the Center for Disease Control
- College directors of counseling services are telling us that there has been a steady increase in the number of students with severe psychological problems and that the demand for counseling services has grown at least 5 times faster than average student enrollment
- Only 25% of students with a mental health problem seek help
It is important to be aware that while some colleges have mental health resources for students, many are unequipped to help the number of students that need help. Students may need or want to look for resources outside of the school. If you do not know where to start, feel free to reach out.
What is helpful?
For parents of college students: Have conversations with your children about their mental health. Let them know you will support them. Together, with your child, look up and be aware of the resources available at the school they will be or are attending. Be proactive in starting that conversation. It will feel safer for your child to approach if they begin to struggle.
For college students: Look for the resources your school has. Call the counseling center to see their availability. Ask around to see if anyone has a therapist they like or recommend.
But also, know that you are not alone. You do not have to struggle alone.
Here are some questions to think through for yourself, conversation starters for parents of college students, or questions for college students to ask their peers:
- How is college going? Are your academics doing ok?
- How is your social life? Your relationships?
- Do you feel like you are getting adequate support at college?
- Have you felt so bad that you’ve thought of taking your own life?
- Have you turned to substances like alcohol or drugs? Do they help you to chill out?
- What helps to support your well-being?
- Is there someone you’d like to talk with about mental health? Would it help for more perspective in college?
I would love to be a resource!
Are you a college student or about to enter into your first year of college? I would like to encourage you to reach out. Find what mental health resources are around you and what resources will help you succeed.
I can see clients through tele-mental health (video sessions) from anywhere is Mississippi, or if you are in the Greater Jackson area, I can see you in-person at our office. I would be my privilege to get to walk alongside you!
Ready to Talk?
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