As teens graduate from high school and go on to enroll in college, mental health may be on the bottom of the priority list. Taking its place well below financial concerns, academic demands and social adjustments, mental health may not be on any student’s mind until a problem arises.
A recent survey conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness provides insight into how students perceive the availability and quality of mental health care on college campuses. The survey, which included 765 respondents, was conducted between August and November of 2011.
Are Students Dropping Out Due To Mental Health Problems?
The purpose of the survey was to measure whether students’ health needs are being met by the colleges they attend. The researchers determined that 62 percent of students who discontinued college while having mental health issues reported that the mental health problems were the reason for their leaving.
Of those surveyed, 71 percent were enrolled in public or private colleges and an additional 19 percent were enrolled in a community college. The remaining students were attending school through an online program or at a technical school. More than 80 percent of the respondents were white and the same percentage was female.
Survey’s Top Mental Health Illnesses In College
Depression was the most commonly cited diagnosis, with 27 percent reporting signs of depression. Twenty-four percent indicated that bipolar disorder was the primary disorder, followed by anxiety disorder at 11 percent. An additional 12 percent reported various problems, including eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The findings indicate that campus mental health services are seeing increased numbers of students and diagnosing serious conditions. The conditions are not helped by the budget cuts that plague many campus mental health centers.
Many students who decided to leave their college programs did so because of the symptoms they experienced connected with the mental health disorder. However, 45 percent of respondents indicated a lack of accommodation from faculty, which could entail services such as tutoring, audio books or a modified course load.
Many Students Not Seeking Mental Health Help Or Not Aware Of Services
In addition, about half of those surveyed reported that they did not seek help at mental health services. In many cases, however, the students reported that they were not aware of the availability of such services.
Some respondents indicated that a need to drop down to a part-time status led to the loss of a scholarship or other financial aid. In some situations, a decrease in grade-point average made attending college impossible following a difficult period connected with mental health problems.
Stigmas Of Mental Illness Negatively Affect Teens
Students commonly reported that the stigma of being identified with a mental health disorder was a significant reason for not seeking out mental health services. Others indicated that the healthcare providers on campus were more focused on physical health or did not listen to the needs of the student.
The fear of mental illness stigma may extend to not only perceptions of how other students may judge the individual based on a diagnosis, but also to professors. The need to ask a professor for an adjusted assignment or an extension on a project may cause a student to fear that his or her reputation may be impacted by the acknowledgement of a mental health issue.
Strategies To Combat Mental Illness Stigmas
One strategy to combat this problem may begin with educational campaigns on campus to combat the stigma associated with mental health problems. The efforts that seek to remove the stigma can also help students be more aware of mental health services available on campus.
Educational strategies can also work to help those living in community to recognize mental health symptoms in a roommate or suitemate. For most students, campus life is the first experience away from parents, and those living in close contact can be ready to encourage a friend to seek help.
In addition, campus mental health services can work to raise awareness among faculty, encouraging the teaching staff to be proactive in accommodating students who may require additional time or access to additional resources to be successful in school.
Read More About Recognizing The Signs Of Depression And Suicide In Your Teen