29 April 2021
Major Project 4
College in itself is stressful enough, when you add in factors like a new environment, different workload and lack of normalcy things get even messier. College is seen as a place where people grow and thrive but what if the opposite is happening. Depression, anxiety, and other mental illness can arise and are often overlooked and untreated.
When you look at the statistics the numbers alone are scary enough, there are over 30,000 college students that have depression and anxiety and with a global pandemic the numbers are at its peak. Paola Pedrelli the author of College students: Mental Health Problems and Treatment considerations writes “Suicide, although not a specific diagnosis, is the third leading cause of death among young adults and is a significant problem among college students” (Pedrelli). Sadly, there are still other mental illness to cover. There are eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. Which can easily arise when your submerged into an environment where fitting in is so prevalent. In addition, there is ADHD and those on the spectrum who are no doubt struggling with their mental health in college.
The effects of these mental illness will not just magically disappear when graduation comes. When there is no acknowledgment or treatment for these metal health problems, it only leads to a negative output into the ‘real world’. When it comes to treatment for mental health in college it is scarce. For instance, in a study by Zivin et al, less than half of the college students with mental health problems persisting over 2 years received mental health treatment during that time period. Students may not realize the seriousness of their mental health and suffer in silence or they might be to embarrassed to reach out for help especially if they see their peers thriving.
Mental health is associated with different things like sex, race, ethnicity, religion, relationship status and financial situations. Research done by Jordan A Brown who attended Georgia State University writes this “There is something to take note of when 38% of nontraditional students leave their first year compared to 16% of traditional students” (Brown). When referring to nontraditional and traditional college student it means that nontraditional students may work full time, has dependents, single parents, or attending school part time. Traditional college students are recent high school graduates, living on campus and plan to graduate in four years. There are the nontraditional college students who are not just faced with academic challenges but also have various responsibilities to take care of. Nontraditional students have higher risks of possibly not graduating and ensuring the appropriate resources are in place is critical as a part of success.
Black students reported experiencing higher levels of stress due to finances and were more likely to attempt suicide 1-5 times then white students. Many POC (people of color) are confronted with challenges that provoke their mental health especially ones who attend a PWI (predominantly white institution). Naturally you are drawn to those who are similar to you, so when the majority of your environment is seemingly nothing like you negative thoughts and feelings of loneliness are quick to arise. Many students of color experience pressure to accept the values, opinions, and mindsets of the dominant white culture while concurrently feeling pressured to abandon their own culture.
When it comes to simply being a woman on a college campus the issues seem to be endless. Women are constantly ignored in class discussions, sexual harassment, homophobia and eating disorders just name a few challenges. Sarah Gmelch author of Gender on Campus: Issues for College Women writes “According to one report, the students most frequently targeted for sexual harassment are African American women, Asian Americans, Latinas, Jewish women, lesbians, and feminists. To this list I would add women athletes. The latter three—lesbians, feminists, and athletes—are undoubtedly singled out because they challenge masculinity and traditional male domains” (Gmelch). A considerable amount of freshman already having experienced sexual assault. Research proves that women who were sexually assaulted in their first semester in college are associated with higher rates of depressive and anxious symptoms. Matters are only made worse when your attacker is freely roaming campus. Only 1 in 5 women report rape many feel embarrassed or even like it is useless. Being faced with such a traumatic situation is detrimental to one’s mental health.
So, what can be done? There are obviously going to be unforeseen occurrence like covid-19 that everyone will endure but having compassion and being understanding goes a long way. As far as the issues that have been prevalent for years, better mental health treatments need to be more widely available for every single type of student traditional and nontraditional. Proving flexible hours and open communication allows for those with other responsibilities to keep up their academic schedule. Having one less thing to stress over is a relief! Having an environment where things like sexism, homophobia and racism is not tolerable makes a vast difference in students college experience. Everyone needs to play their part students, parents, professors, and administrative staff. Working together with open minds is one step in the right direction.
Brown, Jordan A., “Descriptive Analysis of Mental Health Needs of Nontraditional Black and White Students.” Thesis, Georgia State University, 2017.
Eisenberg, Daniel PhD*; Hunt, Justin MD, MS†; Speer, Nicole PhD‡ Mental Health in American Colleges and Universities, The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: January 2013 – Volume 201 – Issue 1 – p 60-67doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e31827ab077
Gmelch, Sharon, et al. Gender on Campus : Issues for College Women. Rutgers University Press, 1998.
Zivin K, Eisenberg D, Gollust SE, Golberstein E. Persistence of mental health problems and needs in a college student population. J Affect Disord. 2009 Oct;117(3):180-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2009.01.001. Epub 2009 Jan 28. PMID: 19178949.