Mental Health and Higher Education

Mental health disorders typically manifest themselves during some of the most pivotal and stressful years of a person’s life – during one’s youth, and during the college years in particular. The additional stressors often associated with transitioning into college life – living away from home, making new friends, carrying a significant financial burden, trying to determine a major or a career path – contribute to the stress, anxiety, and depression that many students feel.  College counseling center directors are reporting an increase in students experiencing these feelings and seeking help to manage them.  Surveys suggest an increase in the severity of mental illness and the deterioration of mental health in college students in recent years.

Depression plagues many individuals in higher education and ranges in severity from mild sadness to debilitating feelings of anxiousness that interfere with day-to-day life.  Treatments include medication and counseling, often recommended together.  If unchecked, mental disorders can manifest as thoughts of doing harm to oneself and even evolve into suicide attempts.  The biggest barrier for mental health is often the public stigma associated with mental health issues, followed by the availability of services, particularly in understaffed college counseling centers.  As mental health disorders are on the rise in higher education, the demand for careers in psychology over the next 10 years looks to be increasing according to Bureau of Labor Statistics projections.

See the visual below to learn more about mental health on college campuses and for a full list of references.

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