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Learn About The Issue

There is much we now know about students and the mental health issues they experience while attending college. Here are some brief facts and stats about college students and mental health. This data undoubtedly makes the case for the importance of addressing the mental health needs of all students on college campuses and why everyone should care about this issue. Check out NAMI's resources for faculty, staff and students to begin to address these important issues.

Mental health issues are prevalent on college campuses.

  • 75 percent of lifetime cases of mental health conditions begin by age 24.1
  • One in four young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental illness.2 More than 25 percent of college students have been diagnosed or treated by a professional for a mental health condition within the past year.3
  • More than 11 percent of college students have been diagnosed or treated for anxiety in the past year and more than 10 percent reported being diagnosed or treated for depression.4
  • More than 40 percent of college students have felt more than an average amount of stress within the past 12 months.5
  • More than 80 percent of college students felt overwhelmed by all they had to do in the past year and 45 percent have felt things were hopeless.6
  • Almost 73 percent of students living with a mental health condition experienced a mental health crisis on campus.7 Yet, 34.2 percent reported that their college did not know about their crisis.8
  • Colleges across the country have reported large increases in enrollment.9 At the same time, college counseling centers have also observed an increase in the prevalence and severity of mental health issues experienced by students and an increase in the number of students taking psychotropic medications.10

Mental health issues are a leading impediment to academic success.

  • In an American College Health Association report released in 2011, students cited depression and anxiety as among the top impediments to academic performance.
  • 64 percent of young adults who are no longer in college are not attending college because of a mental health related reason.11 Depression, bipolar disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder are the primary diagnoses of these young adults.12
  • 31 percent of college students have felt so depressed in the past year that it was difficult to function and more than 50 percent have felt overwhelming anxiety, making it hard to succeed academically.13 

College students are not seeking help.

  • More than 45 percent of young adults who stopped attending college because of mental health related reasons did not request accommodations.14 50 percent of them did not access mental health services and supports either.15
  • Overall, 40 percent of students with diagnosable mental health conditions did not seek help.16 57 percent of them did not request accommodations from their school.17
  • Concern of stigma is the number one reason students do not seek help.18

Suicide is a real concern.

  • 7 percent of college students have “seriously considered suicide” during the past year.19
  • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death on college campuses.20

More campus-based mental health services and supports are needed on campus.

  • The demand for mental health services and supports in community colleges is expected to increase in the next several years.21 The increase in enrollment alone is justification for expanding and enhancing mental health services and supports available on college campuses and communities.
  • Without adequate treatment, young adults experiencing a mental health issue are more likely to receive lower GPAs, drop out of college or be unemployed than their peers who do not have a mental health challenge.22
  • Students have emphasized the critical need for the following services and supports to be available on campus:23
    • Mental health training for faculty, staff and students
    • Suicide prevention programs
    • Peer-run, student mental health organizations
    • Mental health information during campus tours, orientation, health classes and other campus-wide events
    • Walk-in student health centers, 24-hour crisis hotlines, ongoing individual counseling services, screening and evaluation services and comprehensive referrals to off-campus services and supports


Citations

1 National Institute on Mental Health (2005, June 6). Mental illness exacts heavy toll, beginning in youth. Retrieved from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/science-news/2005/mental-illness-exacts-heavy-toll-beginning-in-youth.shtml.
2 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (n.d.). Mental health: What a difference student awareness makes. Retrieved from http://www.stopstigma.samhsa.gov/publications/collegelife.aspx?printid=1&.
3 American College Health Association (2012). American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment II: Reference Group Executive Summary Spring 2012. Retrieved from http://www.acha-ncha.org/docs/ACHA-NCHA-II_ReferenceGroup_ExecutiveSummary_Spring2012.pdf.
4 Ibid.
5 Ibid.
6 Ibid.
7 National Alliance on Mental Illness (2012). College students speak: Survey report on mental healh. Retrieved from www.nami.org/collegereport.
8 Ibid.
9 College Board Advocacy and Policy Center (n.d.). Trends in higher education. Retrieved from http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/introduction.
10 American College Counseling Association (2010). National Survey of Counseling Directors. Retrieved from http://www.collegecounseling.org/pdf/2010_survey.pdf.
11 National Alliance on Mental Illness (2012). College students speak: Survey report on mental healh. Retrieved from www.nami.org/collegereport.
12 Ibid.
13American College Health Association (2012). American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment II: Reference Group Executive Summary Spring 2012. Retrieved from http://www.acha-ncha.org/docs/ACHA-NCHA-II_ReferenceGroup_ExecutiveSummary_Spring2012.pdf.
14 National Alliance on Mental Illness (2012). College students speak: Survey report on mental health. Retrieved from www.nami.org/collegereport.
15 Ibid.
16 Ibid.
17 Ibid.
18 Ibid.
19 American College Health Association (2012). American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment II: Reference Group Executive Summary Spring 2012. Retrieved from http://www.acha-ncha.org/docs/ACHA-NCHA-II_ReferenceGroup_ExecutiveSummary_Spring2012.pdf.
20 Centers for Disease Control. Retrieved from www.cdc.gov.
21 Center for School Mental Health (2010). Supporting mental health needs of community college students. Retrieved from http://csmh.umaryland.edu/Resources/Briefs/CCIssueBrief.pdf.
22 U.S. Government Accountability Office (2008). Young adults with serious mental illness: Some states and federal agencies are taking steps to address their transition challenges. Retrieved from http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08678.pdf.
23 National Alliance on Mental Illness (2012). College students speak: Survey report on mental health. Retrieved from www.nami.org/collegereport.








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