Why Mental Health Needs are Rising on College Campuses


College students are more stressed, anxious, and depressed than ever before.

Some alarming statistics:

  • Almost 1/2 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
  • Anxiety, depression, eating disorders and substance use are associated with lower GPA
  • More than 80% of college students felt overwhelmed and 45% felt things were hopeless
  • Only 25% of students with a mental health problem seek help

What might be causing the rise of these mental health issues? While there could be many causes, here are a few common reasons:

Societal Trends

There are very clear trends of increasing anxiety and depression levels in today's society. Since 1980, the prevalence of reported anxiety disorders is more than 1,200% (source). This means that college students are a part of a much greater global phenomenon.

Information Overload

During the last few decades, there has been rapid acceleration of technology and social change. Current college students were born into a time when the internet, smart phones, and social media began to take over. The emergence of these advances have altered the way that we relate to people and see the world. While being connected has given us an endless array of choices and information, the downside is decision fatigue and feeling constantly overwhelmed.

Existential Confusion

College students are expected to adjust to adulthood, including the need to establish an adult identity. For the first time, a young adult may be thinking about the meaning of their life in regards to their short and long term perspectives. This is a lot of weight to carry for someone who already has school pressures.

Financial Pressures

College students have more financial pressure now than ever. Nearly 60% of students said they worry about having enough money to pay for school, while 50% are concerned about paying their monthly expenses. The pressures of student loan debt weigh on college student's mental state. In fact, 32% of students reported neglecting their studies because of the money they owed.

Ineffective Mental Health Care

All too often, we find college counseling centers willing to help their student population, however, unable to manage the great need. Most of the schools that do offer counseling, only allow students to have a certain amount of sessions. Many times, counseling centers even turn students away due to not having enough therapists on staff. This causes discouragement for the students receiving help.

Problematic Attitudes Toward Mental Illness

One of our goals at Modern Therapy is to remove stigma from mental health, however, we still find people having a hard time talking about it. People often avoid discussing the problem, whether it is effecting them directly or a loved one. There tends to be a lack of education, awareness, access to care, and a system that fosters avoiding the problems.

A Breakdown in the Traditional Family Structure

Many mental health problems stem from a lack of stable family structure, which children need to build a secure base. The significant rise of divorce rates must be considered as a possible contributor to the emerging mental health crisis among college students. Even at the college age, students need a stable, loving, secure, and predictale structure to call home.

An Intense Transition

Living away at college is an extremely stressful time, especially for individuals who might have overprotective adults in their lives. Many students move into school with a heavy adjustment difficulty.

High Academic Pressures to Succeed

Many people argue that the academic pressure to succeed is now greater. Many high schools have massive grade inflation, which can have students expecting they will get straight A's in college. College level curriculum can also be extremely challenging. Trying to keep up with, or fail to meet this expectation can cause students to struggle with enormous amounts of stress and anxiety.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health in college, do not hesitate to reach out! There is always someone here to help. Link.