Mental Health In Students: A Comprehensive Guide

student sitting on floor, head on knees struggling with mental heal

Mental health is a critical component of overall well-being, and it is especially important for students. Students face a unique set of challenges, including academic pressure, social relationships, and transitioning to adulthood. These challenges can take a toll on mental health, leading to problems such as anxiety, depression, and stress.

Mental health issues have steadily increased year over year for students. The statistics are staggering and are cause for concern. In 2021, more than a third (37%) of high school students experienced poor mental health during the prior year (CDC). Up to 44% of college students reported having symptoms of depression and anxiety (Mayo Clinic).

What Is Mental Health

Mental health is a state of well-being in which a person can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively, and make a contribution to their community. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and it can affect all aspects of a person’s life, including their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Common Mental Health Problems In Students

The most common mental health problems in students are anxiety and depression. Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease. It can cause physical symptoms such as a racing heart, sweating, and trembling.

Depression is a feeling of sadness or hopelessness that lasts for two weeks or longer. It can cause changes in sleep, appetite, and energy levels, as well as difficulty concentrating and making decisions.

While anxiety and depression are the most common, other mental health problems that can affect students are:

  • Eating disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia

Signs And Symptoms Of Mental Health Problems In Students

There are many different signs and symptoms of mental health problems in students. It’s important to know what to look for.

  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Withdrawing from social activities
  • Decline in academic performance
  • Lack of motivation or engagement in schoolwork
  • Losing interest in hobbies or activities that were once enjoyable
  • Having thoughts of suicide or self-harm

Risk Factors

  • Family history of mental illness
  • Experiencing trauma or abuse
  • Academic stress
  • Social isolation
  • Substance abuse
  • Medical conditions such as chronic pain or thyroid problems

Impact Of Mental Health Problems On Students

Mental health problems can have a significant impact on students’ lives. They can make it difficult to focus on schoolwork, maintain relationships, and participate in once-enjoyable activities. They can also lead to physical health problems such as severe headaches and sleep problems.

The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook

Early Intervention Is Important

If you are concerned that a student may be struggling with a mental health problem, it is important to seek help early. Early intervention can help to prevent the problem from getting worse and can lead to better outcomes.

How To Help Students With Mental Health Problems

There are several things that you can do to help students who are struggling.

  • Talk to the student about your concerns. Let them know that you are there for them and that you want to help.
  • Encourage the student to seek professional help. This may involve seeing a therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist.
  • Help the student to develop coping skills. This may include relaxation techniques, problem-solving skills, and time management skills.
  • Provide the student with support. This may involve helping them to stay organized, completing schoolwork, and maintaining social relationships.

What Resources Are Available

If you or someone you know needs help dealing with mental health challenges, you are not alone and there are free and confidential resources available to you.

Call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988

The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, formerly the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Established in 1987, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is a voluntary health organization that gives those affected by suicide a nationwide community empowered by research, education, and advocacy to take action against this leading cause of death.

Crisis Text Line

In a crisis and need to talk to someone? The Crisis Text Line will connect you with a counselor. Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the United States, anytime. A live, trained Crisis Counselor receives the text and responds, all from their secure online platform. The volunteer Crisis Counselor will help you move from a hot moment to a cool moment.

Jed Foundation

The Jed Foundation is a nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults, giving them the skills and support they need to thrive today…and tomorrow.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

NAMI provides advocacy, education, support, and public awareness so that all individuals and families affected by mental illness can build better lives.

National Eating Disorders Association

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders. NEDA supports individuals and families affected by eating disorders and serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures, and access to quality care. Contact the NEDA Helpline by call or text at 1 (800)-931-2237 or the online chat.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

SAMHSA’s mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities. It provides information on mental health services and treatment centers through a service locator.

Campus Resources

Each college and university offers free resources to its students. Be sure to visit your college’s website or in person at your Campus Health Center. Campus Health Centers offer expanded services to help college students deal with stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

Mental health is an important part of overall well-being, and it is especially important for students. Mental health problems can have a significant impact on student’s lives, but early intervention can help to prevent the problem from getting worse and can lead to better outcomes. If you are concerned that a student may be struggling, talk to them about your concerns and encourage them to seek professional help.