3 Mental Health Challenges Facing College Students

Adjusting to college life can be difficult for some students. This is a major step that often involves moving out, living in the college dorm and coping with the stress of studying specialized topics. As a result, many students experience mental health challenges.

A few issues tend to be very common among university students. Anxiety is probably the most typical one.


A Penn State study identified anxiety as the most common mental health challenge among college students. The study involved 100,000 students and more than half of the ones visiting the university’s clinic listed anxiety as their primary concern.

According to the National College Health Assessment Survey, one in six college students suffers from anxiety. Some of the more severe cases have led to subpar academic performance. Anxiety is different from the normal stress that students experience before an exam or during their finals week. Knowing when to seek help is the key to maintaining good mental health and making the most of the college experience.

Anxiety is defined as a problem that interferes with everyday life and prevents people from functioning normally. Feeling blue every once in a while isn’t troubling. Finding it impossible to get out of bed or to study for an exam could be the sign of a mental health problem.

Anxiety is also characterized by long periods of feeling sadness, intense despair, isolation, the lack of desire to get involved in typical activities, anger, panic and thoughts of self-harm or even suicide. In such instances, college students are advised to seek help immediately.

Eating Disorders

Unfortunately, millions of college students can be affected by eating disorders. These life-threatening conditions are more common among female students but they’ve increasingly been affecting guys over the past few years.

People in the 12 to 25 age group are the most susceptible ones when it comes to eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia and orthorexia. Studies suggest that 91 percent of the female college students have attempted to control their weight through dieting during their years in university. In addition, 25 percent of women in college have admitted to bingeing and purging.

The most common signs of an eating disorder are poor or unrealistic body image, excessive exercise, fear to consume certain foods, fear to eat in public and dehydration. Many students, however, recognize these symptoms but fail to acknowledge the fact that they could have an eating disorder.

The involvement of friends could be crucial to identifying such issues and seeking professional assistance. You should be concerned about a friend that skips meals often, refuses to eat out, is excessively concerned about counting calories, loses interest in previously favorite meals and uses mints after trips to the bathroom.

Suicide Thoughts

This is a very serious mental health issue and it affects a serious percentage of students. According to one study, six percent of first-year students have had suicidal thoughts. Another study indicates that about 10 percent of the student population have had a similar experience.

Suicidal thoughts are quite often unlocked by depression. A few other mental illnesses could be to blame, as well. As a result of those conditions, nearly 1,000 college students commit suicide in the US every single year.

The signs of suicidal tendencies include depression, negative thoughts, excessive mood swings, frequent talk about wanting to die, a major deterioration in academic performance, lack of interest in social activities and isolation, changes in personality and changes in typical behavior.

Many of the college student suicides are caused by mental conditions that are treatable. If a friend of you is exhibiting the symptoms of a suicidal tendency, you should contact the university’s counseling center immediately to get a better idea about the most appropriate course of action.

These are the big three when it comes to mental health challenges among students. As you can see, all of the conditions can be life-changing and they may even become life-threatening. On top of being prone to depression, anxiety, eating disorders and suicidal thoughts, college students could suffer from a range of additional issues. Substance abuse and addiction, insomnia, attention deficit disorder and phobias are also common.

Leave a Comment