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Unique Mental Health Struggles of College Students

Apr 29, 2024

2 Minutes


College students are prone to more stress and have less support than is obvious from an outside perspective, but this can change by seeking the right kind of support.

Starting college is a life transition unlike any other. It can be a time of new adventures and long-awaited autonomy, but for many it also presents unforeseen struggles and challenges. Health Minds Study surveyed over 450 colleges with over half a million respondents. Of those surveyed, 44% of students reported symptoms of depression, 37% reported symptoms of anxiety, and 15% had considered suicide (Cook, 2023). Even though many college students share similar mental health concerns, they will struggle in silence, which only worsens symptoms. 

Many college students will find their new independence exciting, but many will also struggling being separated from family and friends back home. They will suddenly be faced with making decisions that may have lasting impacts on their life. It can be a difficult and overwhelming for students to take on responsibilities often expected of adults without yet developing the skills required. 

In addition to lifestyle changes, many students also experience increased academic pressures. The well-intended expectations of parents and teachers, even the student themselves, may result in chronic stress and other chronic mental and physical health conditions. While getting good grades and receiving a degree can be important, if chronic stress is not addressed it can decrease academic success and even increase the rate of dropout. There are many factors that can exacerbate normal stress for a college student, including a full-time course load, working full-time, learning to live with roommates, interacting with students and teachers from different cultural, social, or political backgrounds, managing family demands back home, and pursuing romantic relationships. Many of these experiences are positive, but are overwhelming when happening simultaneously, and when operating under the assumption that they should not need support to thrive in each of these areas. 

Stigma around mental health and therapy services is changing. College students are participating in therapy now more than ever before, with roughly a third of students utilizing on-campus services (Cook, 2023). The increase of mental health struggles reported and therapy utilized by college students is not cause for concern, but a result of raising awareness to these experiences and validating the significant life transitions that occur during college study and young adulthood. College students are prone to more stress and have less support than is obvious from an outside perspective, but this can change by seeking the right kind of support. College students should know that they are not alone in their experiences, and that they can find a therapist to help them overcome their mental health struggles and get the most out of their college years. 


Cook , D. (2023, March 9). College students’ anxiety, depression higher than ever, but so are efforts to receive care: News: University of Michigan School of Public Health: Mental Health: Healthy Minds Study. College Students’ Anxiety, Depression Higher Than Ever, but So Are Efforts to Receive Care | News | University of Michigan School of Public Health | Mental Health | Healthy Minds Study |.

Pedrelli, P., Nyer, M., Yeung, A., Zulauf, C., & Wilens, T. (2014). College students: Mental Health Problems and treatment considerations. Academic Psychiatry, 39(5), 503–511. 

By Anna Wilson, LMFTA

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