Navigating Mental Health in College Students

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Mental health in college students may not be something that is talked about often, but it is something that impacts this population of individuals greatly.

Going to college is something that most young adults strive for. Not only is going to college an opportunity for them to expand their knowledge and begin focusing in on developing a career for themselves, but it is also a time for them to step out on their own for the first time. But what is often described as an exciting, happy, best-years-of-your-life time is also a time that can be equally as stressful, overwhelming, and scary. This becomes abundantly clear when we stop to take a look at mental health in college students. 

Statistics Regarding Mental Health in College Students 

The average age range for college students is anywhere between 18-25, depending on what students are studying. It is at this time, however, that many mental illnesses start to become prominent, college or not. That is because in general, this age range is common for young adults to begin noticing symptoms associated with mental illnesses. In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that 75% of lifetime mental illness cases develop by age 24. NAMI also delivers the following statistics regarding mental health in college students:

  • One in four individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental illness
  • More than 11% of college students have received a diagnosis for or have been treated for an anxiety disorder within the past year 
  • More than 10% of college students have been diagnosed or gotten treated for depression within the past year
  • A startling 73% of college students claimed they experienced a mental health crisis while on campus 
  • Nearly 35% of college students reported that their college was unaware of their mental health issues during their attendance

Additionally, NAMI reports that more that 45% of college students who left college because of their struggle with their mental illness did not ask for any kind of assistance after leaving. On top of that, 40% of college students never asked for help navigating their mental illness while enrolled in school. The prime reason for college students shying away from getting help is because of the stigma that is attached to addiction. The fear of judgment from peers can be too overwhelming to consider, nevermind experience. 

Reasons for Mental Illness in College Students

College students, just like anyone else, have their own unique needs and wants. This means that no two college students are exactly the same. So, when faced with common college-related adversities, not everyone is going to handle themselves in the same manner. However, The National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that there are several common reasons for mental illness in college students, including the following:

  • Academic pressure
  • Separation from family
  • Developing individualism
  • Balancing work and family responsibilities with school

College students are also highly susceptible to peer pressure, as they are embarking on a new chapter in their lives and want to be accepted. But, unfortunately, focusing too much on trying to be accepted by everyone can be overwhelming and even dangerous in regards to mental health and wellbeing.  

How to Cope with Mental Health Problems in College 

College is a time for young adults to give life a shot and strive to figure out what works best for them. But when a mental illness is occurring, that already difficult task can become even harder as symptoms set in and figuratively blur the student’s focus. If you are a college student and you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression, mood disorders, or any other type of mental illness, there are several things that you can do to cope. Consider doing the following:

  • Contact your on-campus mental health resources — Typically, college campuses have therapists and psychiatrists available to help individuals like yourself navigate both everyday problems and issues related to mental illness. You can participate in therapy sessions and even work with a professional who may be able to prescribe you the appropriate medication needed to help manage your symptoms. 
  • Simplify your schedule — It might be tempting to fill up your schedule with classes, activities, and social gatherings, but overdoing it at a time when you are experiencing a drastic transition in your life can be detrimental to your health. Clear out your schedule and make sure you are focused on the most important aspects of your day. As you accomplish the things on your schedule, you can add/remove more based on what you are able to handle. Overdoing it leaves you susceptible to stress, which can trigger symptoms of mental illness
  • Find an outlet — Whether you are dealing with depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness, finding a healthy outlet is imperative. Many college students tend to drink, use drugs, and even blow off classes in an effort to reduce whatever it is that they are feeling inside. Unfortunately, this can make the situation much worse. So, be sure to find a healthy outlet that you can express yourself through. This can be running, painting, doing a sport, etc.
  • Ask for help — If you feel like you do not know what to do or you feel like you are getting lost in the mix, ask for help. Talk to a teacher, on-campus counselor, friend, roommate, family member – whoever! You do not need to deal with a mental illness on your own, nor do you need to even try to. Getting help and support from external sources can help keep you balanced and feeling confident in your abilities to manage your symptoms independently. 

Get Help in Los Angeles 

If you are struggling with a mental illness, a substance use disorder, or a combination of both, reach out to us right now. We know how difficult dealing with even one of these issues is, which is why we are here to help show you the way. 

If you are ready to get moving towards a happier, healthier future, call us today. You deserve to get the best, most effective treatment that will allow you to live free from the confines of your mental illness.
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