College counselors and other mental health professionals who work closely with young adults have noticed an alarming upward trend in the number of students reporting anxiety and/or depression as a personal concern.
College students today are under enormous amounts of stress compared to those in past generations. Shouldering the responsibility of balancing school, work, and their social lives in an age where information is instant leads almost every college student to feeling stressed at one point or another. However, according to the Healthy Minds Study, which was created at the University of Michigan to collect mental health data in higher education, a staggering 24 percent of college students reported having high levels of anxiety, with 31 percent reporting depression.
While it’s believed that the combination of an increasingly competitive work force, the rising cost of college, and access to an unprecedented amount of information via the internet may be linked to the growing number of students battling depression and anxiety, one thing that’s for certain is that number is on the rise faster than ever before.
According to the Association for University and College Counselling Center Directors, the rate of anxiety reported amongst students has increased by nearly 50 percent over the past 10 years. Self-reported cases of depression saw an increase of over 20 percent in that same time.
As stated by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 75 percent of all mental health conditions begin before the age of 24. This leaves the average college student in a vulnerable demographic with an overwhelming majority of undergraduate students finding themselves within that age group. While this isn’t necessarily anything new, it does help explain the rise in self-reported cases of anxiety and depression on college campuses.
Often at times, anxiety and depression are attributed to the presence of stressors such as poor academic performance, the real-world pressure to succeed and the financial burden of college. Other factors can include bad habits such as unhealthy eating, a lack of sleep and the use of tobacco/nicotine products. In turn, students who report having symptoms of either anxiety or depression tend to suffer academically due to coping mechanisms that interfere with their day-to-day schedules.
University counseling centers are urging students not to let the stigma surrounding therapy keep them from seeking help. In 2015, almost 73 percent of students living with at least one mental health condition experienced a mental health crisis on campus. Meanwhile, 34.2 percent of those students reported that their college did not know about their crisis. These mental health professionals stress the importance of seeking help not only because they have resources to help keep students on track but can also help with getting further treatment.
Here on the Island, students can take advantage of the University Counseling Center’s personal and group counseling services. Students are allowed 15 sessions per academic year and can schedule individual consultations by contacting the Counseling Center at (361) 825-2703 during regular school hours. For more information about the University Counseling Center and the services they offer, visit www.counseling.tamucc.edu