Giving Compass' Take:
- Between 2020 and 2022, the number of college students using therapy and mental health services increased more than in prior years.
- What are the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on college students? How can they access services?
- Learn more about mental health here.
What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
Rates of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts are at all-time highs, but more college students than ever before report receiving therapy or counseling, according to a new study.
The report, from the annual Healthy Minds Study, is based on web surveys taken by 96,000 US students across 133 campuses in the 2021-22 academic year. It found that 44% of students reported symptoms of depression, 37% reported anxiety disorders, and 15% reported having seriously considered suicide in the past year—the highest recorded rates in the history of the 15-year-old survey.
More positive data showed that more than a third of students surveyed, also a record, reported having one or more therapy or counseling sessions in a one-year time period. Between 2020 and 2022, the number of students that participated in counseling or therapy increased from 30% to 37%, the most significant increase since 2018.
Additionally, the use of alcohol was at its lowest in the survey’s history with 54% of students reporting no alcohol use in the two weeks prior to taking the survey.
“I’m concerned, but there is also some reason for optimism,” says Justin Heinze, associate professor of health behavior and health education at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and a principal investigator of the Healthy Minds Network, which administers the study.
“We need to understand what’s driving rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidality in college students, but I’m glad we’re seeing more students accessing services and drawing on other forms of social support,” he says. “The goal now is to continue to build out these services and support networks, and I think campuses increasingly recognize they are in good positions to do so.”
Heinze and colleagues say the findings underscore the ongoing need for new strategies and resources to support students’ mental health individually and collectively.
Postsecondary institutions are increasingly committed to providing mental health resources, with many implementing more accessible and robust strategies to accommodate the spectrum of mental health and emotional well-being needs of their student populations.
Read the full article about college students' mental health by Kim North Shine at Futurity.