College students pack a heavy bag of mental illness
Loading up the car for college? The American Psychiatric Assn. reminds us that while college can be a time of great hope and exuberance, that's not always the case: Its 2008 American College Health Assn. Survey found that 30% of college students reported that at some point in the last 12 months, they had felt so depressed it was hard to function. And 49% reported that in the same period, they had experienced overwhelming anxiety.
Ten percent of those surveyed said they had been diagnosed or treated for depression, and 6% reported they had seriously considered suicide. And a study published December 2008 in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that alcohol disorders affected roughly one in five college students. The next-most-common class of disorders were personality disorders, affecting about 17.7% of college students.
We know from the website Active Minds, devoted to "changing the conversation about mental health on college campuses" and to providing mental-health resources to college students, that an average of 1,100 college students die by suicide each year. Sure, there's beer-pong and all-night partying. But there's crushing pressure as well, and it can take a toll on students' mental health. (To find a chapter, or start one on your campus, look here.)
The Los Angeles Times' Shari Roan wrote back in September 2007 about the growing demands on college mental health services, and some of the dilemmas they face in serving troubled students on the cusp of adulthood. Now would be a good time for parents and students alike to revisit that article.
-- Melissa Healy