Wednesday, July 10, 2024

How Does Mental Health Affect College Students

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How Mental Health Issues Are Diagnosed

Why students should have mental health days | Hailey Hardcastle

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or is the official guide for diagnosis criteria regarding mental health issues and mental health disorders. Each version of this manual updates various approaches, methodologies, and recognized types of disorders. As part of the most recent version, a new approach is to be taken with children. Rather than isolating their conditions, it is essential to approach childhood mental health in a way that embraces that conditions in children and teens continue to appear at various stages throughout their lives. Such conditions may also change in conjunction with changes in a child as they become older. This can impact the way the mental disorder or issue exists later in their life.

Common Mental Health Problems For Students

According to recent research, 1 in 5 students has a diagnosed mental health problem. The following mental health problems are the most common among students.

See also our A-Z of mental health where you can find out more about mental health problems, as well as a range of other relevant topics.


Anxiety disorders are one of the most commonly diagnosed mental health problems among students.

Anxiety is what we feel when we are worried, tense or afraid particularly about things that are about to happen, or which we think could happen in the future. Anxiety can become a mental health problem if it impacts on your ability to live your life as fully as you want to.

See our pages on anxiety for more information.


Depression is the most commonly diagnosed mental health problem among students. Depression is a low mood that lasts for a long time, and affects your everyday life.

See our pages on depression for more information.

Suicidal feelings

Incidents of suicide at universities are more highly reported than in the general population. Suicide can have a significant impact on university communities.

Suicidal feelings can mean having abstract thoughts about ending your life, or feeling that people would be better off without you. Or it can mean thinking about methods of suicide or making clear plans to take your own life.

See our pages on suicidal feelings for more information.

If you feel unable to keep yourself safe, it’s a mental health emergency.

The Immune System And Depression

Depression is a common mental disorder in college students and it affects more than just mood and motivation. Depression can directly impact the bodys immune system by suppressing T Cell responses to viruses and bacteria, making it easier to get sick and stay sick longer. A weakened immune system can also lead to allergies or asthma. Research has also suggested that a compromised immune system can also be a contributing factor in developing depression. Stress, especially chronic stress, is capable of triggering an immune response that is believed to contribute to depression, as well.

Another study of depression and the inflammatory response shows that repeated exposure to stress causes the release cytokines a type of protein linked with inflammation. Cytokines release causes damage in the medial prefrontal cortex part of the brain that holds an essential role in depression. The researchers were able to trigger depressive symptoms as a result of the immune system response due to stress.

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Mental Health Issues Faced By College Students

The formative and educational years of a student’s life have an immense influence on the years that follow. College students are at the brink of experiencing new things while barely reaching adulthood. They are exposed to a world that is unique and different from the restricted one in high school. They also get freedom, which while being desirable is also pretty scary. All of these factors contribute to pressure, which in turn affects the psychology of college students. In their young budding years, students transition from young adults to proper adults takes place they have both responsibility and freedom. They are targeted by society and burdened with expectations which affect their mental health, making them prone to various unfortunate issues.

The College Mental Health Crisis

Undergraduate Mental Illness

We are facing a true mental health crisis on our campuses today.

Lets look at some very scary facts about mental health on our campuses:

Mental health issues are increasingly prevalent among college students:

To make matters worse:

  • There is a tremendous lack of services in colleges and universities: On college campuses, the ratio of certified counselors to students overall is about 1:1000 2000 for small to moderate size schools, and 1:2000 3500 for large universities.

Obviously, something needs to be done right away.

Before we consider solutions, lets think about possible triggers for mental health crises and barriers for getting help when its clearly needed.

Some of the vulnerabilities in college students include a pre-existing or new-onset of a psychiatric disorder or recognition of a previously undiagnosed learning disability. About 50% of psychiatric disorders begin by age 14 and over 75% arise by age 25. Many students have issues with inability to manage stress and feelings of exhaustion. Others struggle with overwhelming feelings of anxiety, depression, homesickness and loneliness. Most college students have intense experiences in relationships and just cannot navigate those waters.

In short, college students are not ready to function fully independently as adults. As someone who in college never trusted anyone over 30 this is not easy for me to admit or even say now. But it is true!

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How Have You Specifically Taken Care Of Your Mental Health Amidst Covid

29.0% of students engaged in mindfulness activities . 46.7% were exercising or engaging in physical activity, 22.0% were using a health app, 17.7% were obtaining mental health care from a professional, and 30.3% were not taking any specific actions to take care of their mental health. Of the people who were exercising, 35.9% gained weight while 32.0% said they felt/looked better due to exercise or dieting. In contrast, of those who were not exercising, 62.2% gained weight and only 9.8% said they felt or looked better. Using Fishers exact test, this effect was significant with p< 0.0001.

Is There Anything Else You Would Like To Share About The Effect Of Covid

As this was a free-form text box, we used JMPs text analysis suite to identify keywords. However, neither keyword identification nor singular value decomposition provided very much insight into the sentiments expressed. Given that this was an optional question, there was not enough information for numerical patterns to emerge. Instead, we have included a few quotes that demonstrate the range of ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected peoples mental health .

  • Everything has been so uncertain and has made me increasingly anxious

  • It is comforting to know that every college student in the country, and most around the world, are dealing with the same struggles that I am, and I am not alone in being fearful and anxious.

  • I smoke more

  • Its very hard to hold it together knowing the world as we once knew is no longer in existence..

  • Not getting help from my college financially has really drained me from even thinking about returning to college for FALL semester 2020.

  • One good thing is that it’s given me more time to sleep, which has been one of the only benefits of the lockdown/pandemic.

  • It has increased productivity in approaching music & business

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No Student Is The Same

It should be stressed that no student is the same. The impacts of poor mental health above are key indicators of a student facing mental health problems and needing support. However, some students may respond in an entirely different way. A student could seem entirely happy and engaged to others and yet be facing significant personal challenges. As such, it is vital that higher education institutions ensure that mental health support and awareness is easily accessible to all throughout the student lifecycle.

Ways To Take Care Of Your Mental Health

College students mental health affected by pandemic

Whether you’re a college student yourself or parent, friend or loved one of a young adult, these mental health tips can help empower mental fitness.

Maintain a routine

As human beings, we like routines. Try to focus on setting a basic schedule for the week that you can follow. If you have live, scheduled classes, use them as the building blocks of your weekly schedule and make it a priority to attend. If you miss one, try not to allow yourself to see it as a lost cause. Instead, take the time to reflect. Get curious with yourself about why you missed it, learn from that, and recommit to making the next session.

Build strong friendships

In terms of whats happening in the world of relationships for a college student, theres a lot going on. Be aware that you might be missing old high school friends and the familiarity and ease of those friendships. As you develop new friendships, allow yourself some time to settle into finding groups of people you enjoy spending time with. Make sure to take time to reflect on which relationships make you feel good. If a friendship feels out of balance, or like its draining your positive energy, it might not be a good fit. Build relationships through clubs, activities, community interest groups, or other extracurricular activities. If youre worried about a friends mental health, let them know you care and are there to listen and support them.

Focus on all aspects of your health

Try new things or stick to the familiar

Set small goals

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Effects Of Mental Health On Academic Performance

Anxiety, jitteriness, and sadness are the most well-known mental obstacles teens and grown-ups face, and its starting to cause significant damage in the academic discipline. Systematically more instances of anxiety, jitteriness, and sadness are accounted for in adolescents and youngsters. One in every eight students has a mental strain, as per the ADAA. While there are medicines for anxiousness and sadness, 80% of students with anxiety and 60% of students with depression do not seek medical aid.

With endless youngsters and adolescents who have undiscovered depression or anxiety and jitteriness, this can contrarily affect their capacity to learn and make the most of their time in school. When pupils have depression and misery that go unnoticed, their psychological well-being is in danger, prompting social and conduct issues, lackluster showing, and learning disregarded cleanliness, helpless self-consideration practices low confidence.It may very well be challenging for educators to distinguish nervousness and anxiety, and jitteriness because these problems regularly show up diversely for various individuals, yet this is the reason knowing the mixes of practices to search for is vital. At the point when anxiety, jitteriness, and sadness arent tended to, the indications can compound, making an endless loop that numerous pupils are winding up in.

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What Can Parents Do To Help Students

Parents often worry that talking about the signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression can be obtrusive or poorly received by their young adult. This is when parents try to let their child find their own way. But it is imperative to have a conversation about concerns.

Be direct with your child. Give examples of symptoms you have noticed and explain why these examples worry you. Be patient, calm and empathetic in your communication.

Students often believe they are to blame for their mental health concerns, which can lead to defensiveness or shutting down. Help your student understand many young adults experience depression and anxiety to reduce the stigma.

If you have concerns, it’s important to ask if your young adult is thinking about suicide or harming themselves. This will not put the idea in their head. If your student is expressing thoughts about suicide, you must seek immediate medical attention.

Many universities have mental health services on campus. Your child’s primary care provider has resources and can provide a referral to behavioral health services. Parents and students should have hope, as many effective treatments for anxiety and depression exist.

Reese Druckenmiller is a clinical social worker in Psychiatry & Psychology in Albert Lea, Minnesota.

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Types Of Mental Health Challenges In College Students

Understanding the types of mental health issues you may face as a college student can help to identify your symptoms. Once you do this, you can locate valuable community resources to help you cope.

Depression. This mood disorder includes persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest in activities you previously enjoyed, and hopelessness. You may also have sleep disorders, appetite changes, unexplained pain, and headaches.

Anxiety. Anxiety is a common feeling, but it can be harmful when it continues for a long time. It presents as persistent feelings of worry, panic, and tension. It disrupts normal life.

Suicidal thoughts. Suicidal thoughts are a mental health crisis, with 20% of college students reporting the condition in 2018.

Eating Disorders. Your eating habits change, and you become so focused on your body’s shape or image. The disorders can range from eating too little or overeating, followed by purging.

Addiction. If you frequently use recreational drugs and alcohol, it can lead to mental health problems. Addiction has a clear pattern of psychological and physical dependence and comes with strong cravings.

Focus On Their Fears And Issues Instead Of Studies

How School Affects Students

When these mental health issues are not distinguished and appropriately tended to, there are long haul chances for the victims. A pupil managing one of these issues can encounter negative consequences for their consideration, understanding, focus, memory, social cooperation, and actual well-being. These components assume a vital function in every pupils academic achievement and accomplishment.

A student who has anxiety and depression is bound to concentrate on things that they see to be a potential danger instead of zeroing in on what is significant, such as learning. Likewise, people will decipher ordinary circumstances as hazardous or undermining and frequently expect the most dreadful outcome imaginable.However, when somebody encounters depression or anxiety, most of their intellectual ability is utilized to make and handle troublingconsiderations. This can make it amazingly hard to zero in on the contemplation and to debilitate for the pupil, which reduces theirlearning capacities.

These problems sway memory not exclusively, making it difficult for pupils to evaluate data, yet they can likewise affect how pupils participate in social circumstances. Frequently, pupils with mental health issues will keep away from collaborations with their companions and see nonpartisan circumstances as dangerous. This, thus, makes others awkward and brings about the pupil feeling forlorn, pariah, and builds depression and discouragement.

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I Thought I Might Drop Out

Outside their Stanford dorm that night in November 2017, Harry Fowler was refusing to go to the hospital. More police officers showed up and surrounded Fowler so they couldnt leave. The officers handcuffed Fowler and put them in the back of a squad car. This was standard procedure at Stanford, as in many states, at the time, for officers accompanying a person in a mental health crisis to the hospital. For Harry Fowler, though, it was trauma on top of the stress and anxiety they were already feeling.

I remember just the stares I got from being escorted by police, because Im sure people thought I was a criminal, Fowler recalled. It still bothers me to this day.

The officers brought Fowler to Stanford Hospital, where they were admitted on an involuntary hold. There they tried to explain that theyd been prescribed an antidepressant a few weeks earlier Fowler thought it might be making their depression worse. Suicidal ideation is a side-effect of some antidepressants. They wanted help getting on the right medication, they said.

They stayed in the hospital for a week. During that time, an assistant dean from the school came to see them. Youll probably have to take a year off, Fowler recalled the dean saying. No, that cannot happen. I cannot go back home, Fowler remembered replying.

It made me feel like a failure, they said recently. I didnt know if I was going to stay in college. I thought I might drop out.

Teens Face Mental Health Issues Even Before College

Teens and young adults are facing mental health challenges even before entering college. Part of this could be due to the stress of preparing for higher education. However, it seems to be part of a larger trend. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the number of adolescents seeking mental health services increased in 2015 compared to the previous decade. About 13% of adolescents ages 12-17, or 3.3 million teens, sought treatment in a specialty mental health setting in 2015.

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Its Ok To Not Be Ok: Seek Help

While mental health issues are common in college students, there are resources, organizations, and people who are here to help.

Grades, finances, relationships, and career prospects all come second to your overall mental health. Sometimes the weight youre carrying can feel big on its own, but in sharing and finding support, the load can immediately feel lighter. If you see a friend or loved one struggling or notice signs of mental health issues, speak up. Were all on this journey together and for many, college is just the start of putting a good mental health practice in place.

For suicide prevention hotlines in your country, visit this page. If you’re in need or urgent support, contact your local emergency services.

How Mental Health In College Students Is Changing

How the pandemic is impacting college students’ mental health

College lends itself to a host of new things: freedom, independence, autonomy, and opportunity. But theres a new trend rising in college students only exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic: a mental health crisis.

According to a recent study, COVID-19 has taken a hefty toll on college students mental health.

  • One in three students reported having a mental health disorder in 2020
  • One in four students is taking psychiatric medications
  • Rates of major depression on campus doubled from 2009 to 2019 from 8% to 18%
  • In 2019, 13% of students reported seriously considering suicide

Whats happening in todays culture thats negatively impacting so many college students mental health? Amid a mental health crisis in young adults, how can you identify challenges, respond and cope with root causes, and seek help?

It might feel like you’ve hit your quarter-life crisis. Whether you’re a college student feeling uneasy about your own mental health or a family member watching a young person struggle, you’re not alone. Here’s what you should know about mental health in college students and how you can help or get help.

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