Dr. Helen

One in Four College Students Diagnosed with Mental Health Condition

According to this study, one in four college students has been diagnosed with emotional problems:

BOSTON — For some, it’s the best four years of their lives. For others, it’s a period of constant struggle, whether academically, socially, or both. College brings about new experiences and challenges for young adults that can be difficult to adapt to and overcome, so perhaps it’s no surprise that a new study reports high rates of stress and mental health conditions among students.

The newly-published report out of Brigham and Women’s Hospital shows that a quarter of college students received were diagnosed with a mental health condition in the past year, and a fifth have had suicidal thoughts.

Researchers looked at survey results from 67,308 students across 108 American colleges and universities during the spring of 2015. Students were questioned on the frequency of stressful events, depression or anxiety in their daily lives, and reported whether or not they’d been diagnosed with a mental health condition in the past year. Stressful events were viewed as anything that students viewed as traumatic or difficult to handle, whether academic or personal. That includes financial struggles, family problems, trouble sleeping, self-esteem issues, or health matters.

There are a number of reasons for the increase in mental health problems. First, people are diagnosed more readily now than in the past so it isn’t surprising there are more cases. Second, everyone is told to go to college and those who are emotionally disturbed or for whom college is not the best match go anyway.

Finally, there is the simultaneous problem that students have a hard time handling stress because they have little or no experience doing so, and colleges have become so competitive and conformist that the stress for many students is worse than ever.

Given all this, I’m surprised it’s not a higher percentage.