Critical Mental Health Concerns for College Students

Critical Mental Health Concerns for College Students

It’s tough to keep a focus today. This is especially true for college students and young people, who are new to the “real-world” experience and face stress, fatigue, overwork, or possibly more serious mental illness. reports that up to 75% of college students who may have mental health problems do not seek help. Here are some of the most common issues facing college students, according to its research:

Anxiety – at a time when many are trying to figure out their lives, the stress of school, work, family, and friends can easily cause anxiety, which could easily escalate to something more serious.

Depression – a 2012 study reported that 44% of college students have one or more symptoms of depression. Triggers can be obvious – lack of sleep, academic pressures, conflicts with roommates…the list goes on.

Eating disorders – affects approximately 20% of college women and 10% of college men, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.

Addiction – binge drinking is a common form of addiction found on college campuses, According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Of the 61% of surveyed college students who drank alcohol, 41% reported binge drinking and over 16% were considered “heavy” drinkers.

Self-harm – some estimate that up to 15% of college students have engaged in some form of self-harm, which can be difficult to detect because it is often done on areas of the body that may not be visible to others.

Identity struggles – although society has come to accept the disparate ways people identify themselves, there is still much intolerance and hostility toward people who identify as transgender, lesbian, gay, or bisexual. The American Psychological Association notes that severe stress and anxiety this may cause could lead to more serious mental health issues.

Bipolar Disorder – mood swings that interfere with a person’s functioning can often be passed off as stress, but when they may be indicative of this disorder. Columbia University reports that the diagnosis of bipolar disorder is up dramatically in children, teens, and adults – nearly 3% of the country’s adults.

Suicide – even without a mental disorder, the stress of the new environment and social situations can lead to suicidal thoughts, and if there is an untreated mental illness, suicide is the worst possible outcome.

Colleges and school sites are consistently offering counseling services, support groups, and 24-hour help lines to support students struggling with the pressures and stress of college. The Center for Online Education shares a valuable number of resources:

The Iowa Department of Human Services provides a Mental Health First Aid course that provides a wealth of information on mental illness and substance abuse disorders, as well as risk factors and warning signs. Additional training is available through NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Iowa also provides various training opportunities for persons interested in understanding, identifying, and supporting persons needing mental health support.

We are interested in scheduling an informational training and overview on mental health for our grantees, school facilitators, friends, and community members. If you have interest in joining us for a 2-hour training, please let us know (, and we will work on scheduling this opportunity.