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Home Blog 23 Alarming College Student Mental Health Statistics

23 Alarming College Student Mental Health Statistics

by Branka Vuleta

Considering the fact that more than 1,000 college students in the United States per year take their own life, it is clear that something has to be done regarding the issue of mental health. Also, more than 60% of students think about commiting suicide, and a quarter of students have been diagnosed with depression! All these college student mental health statistics are shocking and upsetting since, according to college student statistics, 46% of jobs in the US require higher education. Yet, the authorities are slow to react.

In the past decade, the number of students treated for mental disorders has been on the rise. Whether it’s anxiety, drug addiction, insomnia, or anorexia – young people on campus are dealing with all sorts of problems. 

College students in the United States are exposed to a lot of pressure and a prolonged exposure to stress leaves consequences on a mental state. The following statistics about college students will paint a clear picture of the situation in the US colleges when it comes to psychological problems.

Facts & stats about the mental state of college students in the US (Editor’s pick)

  • 27% of college students have been diagnosed with depression
  • 57.7% of students have felt “overwhelming anxiety” in the past year
  • 39% of all students in the US report dealing with some kind of mental illness
  • 64% of students drop out of college because of mental health problems
  • Only 9% of college students in the United States decide to seek professional help about their mental health issues

College Student Mental Health Statistics 2019

1. 25% of students have been diagnosed or treated for a mental health condition in the past year

The college students’ mental health in the US is deteriorating at a steady rate, and there are several reasons for such a situation. Either way, one in four college students has been diagnosed or treated for mental disorders in the prior 12 months. Needless to say, this kind of health problem has a detrimental effect on students’ academic performance. On top of that, a lot of students are dropping out of universities because of severe mental illnesses. All in all, the situation is worrying, to say the least. 

  2. 35% of college students are struggling with mental health problems

According to the WHO study, which included 14,000 first-year students from eight countries, as many as 35% of students are struggling with some form of mental illness. When it comes to the US in particular, this study proved the thesis that mental health problems in college students are on the rise. By having one-third of its under-graduate students unable to cope with stress, American colleges are faced with great problems as well. Cognitive or behavioral disorders are affecting the academic process in general. For that reason, it is imperative that campus presidents and other leading figures take a firm stance on the issue. 

3. 64% of students drop out of college because of mental health reasons

In a survey conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, it is discovered that there is a strong correlation between the number of students who drop out of college and depression. To be precise, around two-thirds (64%) of college students in the United States quit their studies because of mental disorders. Clearly, stress at universities is wearing down those young people, forcing them to drop out without ever receiving a diploma. The numbers speak volumes about American higher education.

Depression in College Students - Statistics

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4. 27% of college students in the US are diagnosed with depression

As we all know, depression is a sneaky and somewhat silent illness. Oftentimes, people in your surroundings will not realize that you have a problem. For that reason, depression is known as the “silent killer”. However, more and more methods are being invented to prevent depression and relieve symptoms. Nonetheless, depression among college students in the United States is a serious problem. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has reported that as many as 27% of students are affected by depression. 

5. 60.5% of students are experiencing loneliness, one of the most common symptoms of depression

As we said, manifestations and symptoms of depression are multi-faceted and diverse. So much so that even professionals sometimes have difficulties recognizing the symptoms, depending on the case. However, most experts agree that prolonged feelings of loneliness are an early indicator of depression. That is why it is unsettling to learn that as many as 60.5% of students in the US report feeling lonely. Of course, separation anxiety is one thing, and some students have a hard time finding new friends when they arrive on campus. But, feelings of abandonment and dejection need to be taken seriously since they can lead to grave mental problems if not treated in time.  

6. 30% of students who are diagnosed with depression drop out of college 

In a way, manic depression “kills” your willingness to do anything, let alone sit down and study all day long. At the same time, depression is one of the most common college students health issues in American universities. So, it comes as no surprise to learn that one-third of depressed students decide to drop out of college and abandon their studies. However, the School of Public Health at Boston University has discovered that one-fifth of those students would have stayed in school if proper treatment had been provided. According to the same study, Gen Z-ers (students born after 1995) are more susceptible to developing mental health disorders such as manic depression. 

7. 21.2% of students who are diagnosed with depression will have lifelong symptoms

Studies show that one in three college students in the US is struggling with a mental problem. Unfortunately, the percentage of mental illness in college students is on the rise. On top of that, the symptoms of some of those disorders will stay with students forever. In other words, 21.2% of college students will continue to experience symptoms of depression. Also, studies show that depressive disorder is the most common mental illness that affects college students. It goes without saying that this condition prevents the affected students from achieving their full academic potential. 

Growing Rates of Anxiety in College Students

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8. 11% of college students have been diagnosed with anxiety

Similar to depression, anxiety also has a crippling effect on academic performance. Due to constant exposure to stress and trauma, a sizable number of college students in the US are diagnosed with anxiety. To be precise, 11% of students are struggling with this mental state. Thus, anxiety has a direct impact on college student mental health statistics. Consequently, students experience problems with lack of concentration, lack of sleep, and so on.  

9. 61% of students who seek help are citing anxiety as the main reason

A recent survey carried out in several colleges in the US has also discovered a strong presence of anxiety among college students. More than two-thirds of students who seek help from counseling services are naming anxiety as their main problem. Clearly, anxiety is one of the main causes of mental illness in college students. Therefore, it is imperative that students find ways to relax and alleviate tension. Also, counseling services should look for ways to improve the quality of their methods and techniques. 

10. 57.7% of college students confessed that they have felt “overwhelming anxiety” in the prior year

Anxiety has a tendency of being an overwhelming and overpowering mental disorder. In other words, patients who suffer from this mental condition are unable to “function properly” during anxiety attacks. Thus, it is clear that anxiety in college students has a direct impact on their academic pursuits. When it comes to undergraduate students in the US, as many as 57.7% have said that the feeling of “overwhelming anxiety” has caught up with them at least once in the past 12 months. If these students are left on their own, the number of suicide attempts on campus will continue to grow. For that reason, it is crucial that authorities also take a closer look at the problem caused by anxiety and stress. 

Other Important Issues with Mental Health in College Students

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11. 2–8% of college students are diagnosed with ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is also one of the mental states that affect the academic success of American college students. ADHD inhibits concentration and focus, preventing students from following lectures or studying the material. Also, people who struggle with symptoms of ADHD have much higher odds of developing symptoms of anxiety and depression. According to estimates, between 2 and 8% of students in the US are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. 

12. 24% of students are struggling with symptoms of bipolar disorder

Another syndrome that has an effect on college student health statistics is bipolar disorder. This lifelong condition is characterized by extreme mood swings during manic episodes. In short, bipolar disorder can have a negative impact on sleep, energy, and judgment. For that reason, patients need to stick to therapy and visit counseling sessions on a regular basis. Needless to say, such a state can interfere with college coursework and additional duties students can have. 

Suicidal Behavior: The Consequences of Deteriorated College Students’ Mental Health

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13. 50% of students admit to having suicidal thoughts

In a way, self-harm and suicide attempts are a logical consequence of anxiety and depression. In other words, students who fall into despair and feel hopeless are more likely to consider suicide as a way out. To be precise, half of the students have confessed that they have had suicidal thoughts during their time in college. Thus, it is clear that the connection between the rise in college students depression statistics and the rise of suicide attempts is not a coincidence. 

14. 9% of college students have attempted suicide

The fact that young people would even consider taking their own life is shocking. However, relevant studies show that 9% of college students have already attempted suicide, which is rather upsetting. Also, national statistics on suicide on campus estimate that between 1,100 and 1,400 students per year take their own life. As a matter of fact, suicide is the second cause of death of college students in the United States, right after accidents. 

 15. 95% of suicides committed on campus are a direct consequence of decayed mental health in college students

Traumatic events and excessive stress can trigger all sorts of symptoms. Therefore, the most drastic manifestation of mental disorder is suicide. For instance, one in every twelve college students in the US makes a suicide plan. Luckily, the majority of those “agendas” is never seen through. However, some students go all the way. Moreover, almost all of the ones who commit suicide already have a history of mental illness in their records. To be precise, as many as 95% of suicide events are triggered by a mental health condition, such as depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder. 

16. 75% of suicide victims among college students were male

Without a doubt, the suicide rates of college students are a major reason for concern. According to data released by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), more than two-thirds of suicide victims on campuses were male. These findings show that women are often better at dealing with stress and trauma. With that being said, the same study has revealed that women are three times more likely to seek help and report a suicide attempt. 

17. 25% of gay or bisexual students report attempted suicide

According to college student health statistics for 2019, sexual minorities show increased rates of mental health conditions. Among other disorders, gay or bisexual students show elevated tendencies towards suicidal ideation and self-injury. In fact, a quarter of bisexual students report attempting suicide during their college years. Likewise, transgender college students are a group which shows high rates of self-harm and suicide. As a matter of fact, a third of transgender students have attempted suicide during their college studies. 

18. 67% of students first confess to their friends about having suicidal thoughts

Even though people who suffer from depression tend to keep it to themselves, they often seek help from friends or family. According to reliable college depression statistics, 67% of college students in the United States will first confess to their friends about considering suicide. Judging by the college student mental health statistics we analyzed, 42% of students feel that the help from their friends was essential for saving their lives. In other words, after having an open conversation with friends – almost half of the students have given up on their suicidal intentions. So, peer support as a system of prevention seems to be an effective tool for reducing the risk of suicide and self-harm. 

Depression in College Students-Statistics About Receiving Mental Health Treatment

college student mental health statistics - depression

19. Only 9% of college students decide to seek professional help on campus

Besides friends and family, counseling services on campus are the first line of defense when it comes to fighting against the rise of mental health disorders. Therefore, it is imperative that students ask for help whenever they feel hopeless or under excessive stress. Yet, only 9% of students in American universities decide to seek counseling on campus. Admittedly, the stigma regarding mental health treatment is in decline. In the past decade, the “shame of going to speak with a campus shrink” has declined from 8.2% in 2009 to 5.1% in 2019. 

20. 33% of students claim to be dissatisfied with mental health services provided on campus

According to a collection of college mental health statistics for 2018 derived from Yale, one-third of students are “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with the counseling sessions at their university. Even though the willingness to visit a counseling center has increased by 11% since 2016, it seems that students are not experiencing the results they want. In 2019, the number of students who are using mental health services should climb to 15%. Yet, a better quality of service is a must if we want to prevent mental disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, or substance abuse.

21. 73.1% of counseling center directors report a significant increase of severe mental health issues in college students

By analyzing the data on mental health and college students who use their services, the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors has discovered that mental illnesses are becoming more and more severe. Needless to say, such a situation has a direct impact on student behavior across campus. Stress and trauma are the leading causes of mental disorders, but it seems that Gen Z-ers are more susceptible to mental illnesses.  

22. 72% of campus presidents have reallocated funding to support mental health services

Due to the rise of mental health disorders and related problems, campus presidents are forced to tackle the problem with more resources. For that reason, 72% of presidents report allocating or redistributing funding to enable better counseling services to students who are struggling with mental disorders. On top of that, more than half of campus presidents (58%) have said that they will hire more staff to provide better mental health services. 

23. 87% of campus presidents are likely to classify mental health of college students as one of the priorities

Since the escalation of mental health illnesses affects the entire society, the authorities are starting to pay more attention to the problem. Thus, 87% of campus presidents are categorizing mental health as one of the priorities when it comes to the health of their students. Moreover,  the people in charge are working on long-term solutions to the problem, not just short-term fixes. For instance, 40% of presidents are explicitly mentioning the importance of mental health in college students in their strategic plans. 

How Mental Health Affects Academic Performances

In order to pass their exams and follow the coursework, college students need to be healthy, both mentally and physically. Yet, a range of factors affects their wellbeing in a negative way. Above all, stress and traumatic events are the biggest causes of health problems in college students. A wide spectrum of neurological, cognitive, and behavioral consequences can appear as a result of being exposed to too much stress. 

For that reason, it is imperative that authorities look for ways to reduce levels of stress and depression in college students in the United States. Of course, it will take a lot of effort to create a climate that allows students to maximize their potential and not harm their wellbeing at the same time. The current situation and the excessive academic demands often result in burnout, which then leads to stress and anxiety. 

It goes without saying that mental health problems prevent college students from attending classes or from studying altogether. After all, the range of psychological problems faced by students includes severe conditions, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Moreover, a considerable number of young people in universities see suicide as a way out.

Even if their actions are not as drastic as choosing to take their own life, students who suffer from mental health disorders are facing a myriad of problems when going to college. For example, many of the common syndromes result in a lack of sleep or concentration. Needless to say, students who are not well-rested are less likely to complete their tasks and study for the exams. 

To sum up, all of the above-mentioned college student mental health statistics paint an upsetting picture of the situation in American higher education. Clearly, decisive action needs to be taken as soon as possible. The fact that more than 1,000 college students commit suicide every year is tragic, and nobody should take it for granted.   

People Also Ask

What percent of college students have a mental illness?

According to relevant studies, 25% of students in the United States have been diagnosed or treated for mental illness in the past year. So with a quarter of students struggling with their mental health, it is clear that our college associations have a hot potato in their hands. On top of that, it is estimated that around 10% more college students have a mental illness. However, those students are not yet diagnosed or treated.

What is the most common mental illness among college students?

College students in the United States are suffering from a range of mental disorders, but depression is the most common mental illness. To be precise, 27% of students are diagnosed with chronic depression. Of course, a considerable number of students are afraid of visiting the counseling service on campus. Even so, statistics show that anxiety and ADHD are also quite common among college students.  

How many college students suffer from depression?

Depression is a so-called silent killer, and many students who are struggling with this illness do not seek professional help. Even so, studies show that almost a third of students (27%) are dealing with this disorder. Also, the symptoms of depression are often elusive and sneaky, which makes it difficult to recognize and treat this illness.  

How many college students are affected by anxiety?

Anxiety is another manifestation of stress and pressure that college students are exposed to. According to statistics, around 57% of students have admitted feeling “overwhelming anxiety” at least once in the past 12 months. In fact, anxiety is one of the leading reasons why students visit counseling centers in the first place. However, studies show that only 11% of college students in the US are diagnosed or treated for anxiety disorders. 

What causes mental illness in college students?

All sorts of factors can trigger mental disorders, and this applies to all people, not just young adults. Yet, college students are exposed to a set of specific stress-causing elements. In fact, experts believe that stress itself is the main precursor for mental health problems in college students. Overwhelming stress can lead to anxiety, panic disorder, substance abuse, alcoholism, and so on. 

What are the major health issues that college students face?

Even though college campuses are supposed to be all fun and games, this may not be the case. In fact, college students in the United States are suffering from a variety of health issues. When it comes to mental health, the main issues they face are lack of understanding within their social circles. In other words, the stigma of going to see a therapist is still preventing students from receiving proper help. 

How healthy are college students?

In general, college students in America are healthy and able to follow the curriculum. However, a recent survey has discovered that around 17% of students rate their health as “fair” or “poor”. So, these findings are telling us that a substantial portion of students do not feel as healthy as they should. Clearly, additional efforts need to be invested in raising the quality of health services on campus. 

How many college students get sick each year?

The health of young adults is one of their main assets. Without it, they cannot pass their exams and graduate. Unfortunately, students are exposed to a wide range of illnesses. For instance, 1 in 4 students gets the flu every year. When it comes to mental illnesses, students report having feelings of anxiety on a regular basis, every two months on average. Other mental disorders can develop throughout the year as well.

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