Giving Compass' Take:

• According to a recent survey, the COVID-19 pandemic is putting more stress on college students and contributing to higher rates of depression. 

• What can higher education institutions do to address these mental health challenges? How can education donors help increase mental health supports for college students?

• Learn about the potential for COVID-19 to cause a mental health epidemic. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is putting significant stress on college students, many of whom are worried about increasing financial pressures caused by the pandemic and the lack of easily accessible mental healthcare, the survey also finds.

The new Healthy Minds Network survey of more than 18,000 college students on 14 campuses.

The survey, conducted between March and May of this year in collaboration with the American College Health Association, focused on students’ attitudes, concerns, preventive behaviors, and their perceived supportiveness of colleges and universities related to COVID-19.

The survey’s findings can help inform decisions by college and university leaders who are positioned to implement programs and policies to support students’ needs over the summer and into the fall 2020 semester, says mental health expert Sarah Ketchen Lipson, an assistant professor of health law, policy, and management at the Boston University School of Public Health and co-principal investigator of the national Healthy Minds Study.

“There is a strong economic case for investing in programs and services to support student mental health,” says Lipson.

“Our prior research has shown that mental health problems such as depression are associated with a two-fold increase in the likelihood of dropping out of college.”

Lipson says that risk is significantly decreased when students receive support, including support through online mental health resources, which are in high demand at the current moment. Survey data from March, April, and May show that 60% of students say the pandemic has made it more difficult for them to access mental health services.

“Even with the current financial uncertainty for institutions of higher education, investments to support student mental health, especially those that leverage mobile technology, should be prioritized,” Lipson says.

Read the full article about the mental health of college students by Art Jahnke at Futurity.