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Managing mental health is important at all points in life, but this is perhaps even more true for college students. There has been a growing concern with the pressures college students face, all of which have seemingly contributed to a mental health crisis for students across the country.

College is supposed to be one of the most exciting times in a person’s life. Exploring your independence, growing and maturing while connecting with lifetime friends, learning new material and thinking about your career — all of these things should be what makes college enjoyable. While these factors may still be experienced, the truth is that college students’ mental health is collectively continuing to suffer.

Pathways College is an online college that’s dedicated to providing a supportive, affordable, and exciting experience for each and every student. We think it’s important to be fully transparent about the state of mental health for college students in the country. When we know what people are experiencing, we can truly figure out a way to help.

Stress Is On the Rise

As a Psychology Today article explained, “Rates of anxiety and depression have similarly sky-rocketed in the last few decades. A 2013 survey of college students found that 57% of women and 40% of men reported experiencing episodes of “overwhelming anxiety” in the past year, and 33% of women and 27% of men reported a period in the last year of feeling so depressed it was difficult to function.”

The pressure to do well in school and to get a good job — much of which is needed to even attempt to pay off student loans — is at an all-time high. The national student debt has risen to over $1.5 trillion, reflecting how many people are affected. Financial stress is a huge factor for mental health, and financial pressures weigh heavily on many students’ minds.

Not to mention, college by itself is inherently stressful. For those who are first-generation college students, there is so much to learn and navigate in college, and it’s insanely overwhelming. For anyone who suddenly isn’t with their family and friends that they’ve grown up with and are forced to become independent in a completely new environment, this is a huge adjustment. Doing well in classes, balancing time and money and responsibilities, making new friends, trying not to feel isolated, choosing a major — the number of stressors in college are practically infinite.

Campus Mental Health Centers Feel the Pressure

The American Psychological Association reported that “Ninety-five percent of college counseling center directors surveyed said the number of students with significant psychological problems is a growing concern in their center or on campus.” An additional 70 percent of directors from counseling centers said that the number of students with severe psychological problems has increased.

The good news is that for people who aren’t attending an online college, there are resources available to help support students. The bad news is that with the growing need for these resources, many counseling centers feel that they’re not able to provide the help that’s needed. Plus, public institutions continue to have their budgets slashed, which puts added pressure and even fewer resources available for campus counseling centers.

The Age For Developing Lifetime Mental Illness

Three-fourths of lifetime mental illnesses or conditions develop by the age of 24. This is right around the age that young adults are in college or about to leave. Schizophrenia is one such condition that usually begins for people in their late teens to their early 30s, also coinciding with when many young adults are in college.

The stresses of college can worsen symptoms of those with existing mental health conditions. And considering that a whopping “one in four young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental illness” as reported by the National Alliance of Mental Illness, it goes without saying that college students are among some of the most vulnerable populations for depression, anxiety, and other conditions.

Can Online Colleges Improve These Statistics?

That’s a topic we’ll explore in our next blog. Pathways College knows that offering affordable tuition, full scholarships, supportive admin, and fascinating courses are all elements of our online college that make college less stressful. Stay tuned for our next blog, and look into our program options for business admin and liberal arts today.