College students have a very unique relationship with mental health due to the stress and situations they are often put in. Recent statistics show that over 45% of college students reported symptoms of depression over the last 8-12 months. Recent studies also showed that 40% of college students report extreme anxiety throughout the school year and 15% have even contemplated suicide over the last year. These statistics show how important it is to educate and support college students as they embark on a difficult journey figuring out their future post high school and what challenges they may face, some far away from their home.
College Students and Mental Health
Over 50% of college students say their mental health significantly worsened after starting college.
College students often face situations that can trigger mental health issues. It's so common that mental health experts are actually calling it a current crisis. Over 60% of college students feel self doubt, extreme levels of anxiety, and/or depression throughout the school year, increasing the need for mental health services on campus and in the college community by over 35%. Mood disorders, eating disorders, and anxiety are most prevalent on a college campus. Many students feel that anxiety and mental illness is just a part of college life, but having these go untreated is unfair to yourself and does an injustice to your years at college. Identifying the causes of your mental health issues and opening conversation about them is a great first step.
Many risk factors play into mental health issues and illnesses. These can include growing up in an abusive home, loneliness, dating abuse between partners in college, social pressure, discrimination, stigma, drug abuse, increased social media use, poor academic performance, as well as various other factors.
For many college students, mental illness usually starts in their early twenties or late teens and major life events can impact this such as planning to go to school.
While mental health and self esteem issues in college students is a crisis, we work hard to support students and schools by giving them the tools they need to get support, find resources, and learn how to treat various mental health illnesses.
College Students and Suicide
25% of college students know of someone who has committed suicide while in school.
College can be very stressful. Trying to fit in, balancing busy schedules, and often living far away from home can take a toll on teens and young adults. Many college students come to college with a prior history of mental health difficulties and low self esteem. Various environmental stressors matched with previous mental health difficulties can increase the risk for mental illness in college students. Over 90% of those who commit suicide have a diagnosable mental illness or substance abuse disorder, many of them going untreated. Women are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide, however men are four to five times more likely to die by suicide.
Warning signs to look out for in college students are:
Threatening or talking about hurting themselves
Looking for ways to access firearms, drugs, or other means that can be used to harm oneself/Talking about death or dying
Sudden or prolonged decrease in interest in activities one used to enjoy
Change in eating, sudden weight loss/gain, change in appearance and how one takes care of themself
Sudden change in grades/pulling away from friends
Many suicidal college students want to live, but cannot find alternatives to their problems or feelings and think that suicide is the only way that they can alleviate their stress. Many college students give warning signs that they are thinking about suicide, but many fail to notice them or aren't sure of what to do.
Here at the One Life Project, we work hard to make sure that all people can properly recognize suicide warning signs and what to do if they suspect a friend of thinking about suicide.
Always remember that you are never alone. The fight to get through depression, anxiety, and stress is hard, but can be done. You deserve to be happy and you deserve to feel confident and love for yourself. Never give up! 💜
College Students and Sexual Assault
Around 20% of college students will be sexually assaulted during their time in college.
One in five women are sexually assaulted during college and one in sixteen men are sexually assaulted during college. Only 12% of these victims report their attack to the police. These statistics showcase why the One Life Project has taken a focus on college and sexual assault and what colleges can do better to keep students safe. While sexual assault can happen to anyone of any gender at any place, it is more common on college campuses, specifically during a students first year at school, multiple studies have shown.
Partying, peer pressure, and drugs and alcohol often play a role in sexual assault on college campuses. Regardless of the circumstance, sexual assault is never the fault of the victim. It's imperative that you contact the police. If you are scared to call the police, please notify a trusted family member or friend, or possibly a school official. School officials are required to make sure that you are safe while at school so if the attacker is a student or if it happens on campus, it's necessary to report the crime to the school to assure your safety in the future. Some schools do have a history of trying to quiet victims of sexual assault on college campuses. While this is rare, it does happen. The One Life Project partners with thousands of colleges and universities each year to assure that this does not happen. Colleges must be well educated and aware of how to protect students and support those who fall victim to sexual assault and rape.
College Students and Eating Disorders
20% of women and 10% of men suffer from an eating disorder within their time at college.
College is a time of great excitement, but the things that make it exciting can also make it nerve-racking and scary. College students often face extreme stress with balancing school and getting good grades with friendships, hanging out outside of school, and extra-curricular activities like sports and clubs, while also trying to find time to fit in and do normal college things. Eating disorders can develop when a focus is put on the need for control of food and weight. That mixed with low self esteem or self image issues can develop an eating disorder.
The pressure college students face to fit in and look a certain way can be intense and draining. This on top of the age of social media where everyone seemingly looks perfect online can create issues with self esteem and how we view ourselves and its often heightened throughout college.
The most common eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia. For many people, eating disorders often begin around ages 17-22, right when college students are in their programs. Over 20% of female and 10% of male college students develop an eating disorder during school. It's not something that is often talked about with college students, but it's important. College students with low self-esteem, depression, or anxiety are at higher risk for developing an eating disorder. It's often hard for college students as many aren't around their parents and friends so they may be uncomfortable to ask for help. Important warning signs for eating disorders include quick weight gain or loss, talking about food, weight, or insecurities often, dieting more than what seems normal or healthy, and staying away from normal activities because of anxiety over weight to name a few. While eating disorders are very serious, especially while in school, they are treatable and with the right help, college students can overcome them and learn how to properly balance nutrition and self esteem and confidence.
College Students and Bullying
Many college students facing bullying never tell anyone as they feel ashamed or embarrassed.
Most people have experienced bullying at least once through middle school or high school. however it's rarely talked about after high school, yet it's more common than we think. People assume that bullying ends after high school, but the truth is that most kids that bully in high school continue on to do it in college.
Unlike bullying in middle or high school, many college students face bullies alone without support from close friends and family as many of them live a good distance away from home. It's also hard for some students in college to get away from their bullies, as the unique atmosphere that college brings can be challenging especially if the bully is studying the same major as their victim or lives within the same dorm.
Many college students who are being bullied never tell anyone about the bullying. College is often seen to teens as a point where they become adults and move on in the world with more freedom. This often brings feelings of embarrassment for getting bullied. Bullying is never the fault of the victim. Bullying can take a heavy toll on students and can sadly even lead to long term mental health illnesses, suicide attempts, self harming behaviors, substance abuse, and eating disorders.
Another form of college bullying that is somewhat common and often makes the news is hazing. Hazing usually involves the same tactic as bullying but is designed to produce mental or physical discomfort or pain, humiliation, and ridicule. People that experience hazing are often part of the same social group as those committing the acts and it may be seen as a ritual or a way for a new college student to enter a social group or college house. Hazing really is just an organized group form of bullying, but is often more dangerous.