Most Common Mental Illnesses On College Campuses

By Walbert Castillo on November 14, 2014

Open up your eyes and ears. Mental illnesses are real and they are prevalent within our society, especially for college students.

On a national level, 42.5 million (18.2 percent) American adults suffer from some form of mental illness each year, according to News Week. Out of the 18.2 percent of American adults suffering, USA Today stated 27 percent of college kids experience some type of mental health problem, which includes Depression, Anxiety, Eating Disorders, Substance Abuse, Insomnia and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).

Many of these mental disorders are an impediment for academic success, which could eventually lead to a lower GPA and/or dropping out of school. One thing students should keep in mind is that their university offers health services, which are geared to lift their ailment.

However, 50 percent of students who have a mental illness do not access these mental health services offered at their university and 45 percent drop out of college in not doing so. Sometimes, these mental illnesses occur because students find difficulty in adjusting to these new environments, are stressed from schoolwork, are homesick and/or lonely.

What can I do if I have a mental illness and I am having a difficult time in school?

  • Check out your school’s mental health services
  • Talk to your professors and tell them what you are going through; they can possibly accommodate you by lowering your course load
  • Join support groups: sometimes talking about your problems with others can relieve you of your pain
  • Talk to your family and friends because they will support you


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According to Everyday Health, there are approximately 1,100 suicides on college campuses nationwide each year. The majority of these deaths are caused by untreated depression. Depression has increased approximately 10 percent over the course of the past 10 years. Depression is an intense feeling of sadness that overtakes a person.

Depression usually lasts for an extended period of time from many days to weeks and may hinder your ability to function normally. Depression is the second leading cause of death for college students across the nation.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness conducted a survey and discovered women are two times more likely than men to experience a form of depression.

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Social anxiety disorder, phobias and panic disorders fall under the category of anxiety disorder. These disorders can highly hinder a person’s habitual routines and make them stressed and/or scared about future events. Stress amps up the anxiety to a level where people will not be able to function properly. Anxiety disorders are common on a college campus.

National Alliance on Mental Illness stated that 50 percent of college students who have felt anxiety said that it was difficult to succeed academically. In addition, 75 percent of people who have anxiety disorder are those 22 and younger.

When you have a friend suffering from anxiety disorder, listen to their thoughts and encourage them to seek professional help. Best Colleges states several symptoms of anxiety disorder: feelings of apprehension, fearfulness, irregular heartbeat and muscle pain.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders include anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorders. If you are starting to develop abnormal eating patterns, or any mental illness, seek professional help.

People who have eating disorders will find themselves obsessed with their body weight and the intake of food.

“People with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa tend to be perfectionists who suffer from low-self esteem and are extremely critical of themselves and their body,” American Psychiatric Association stated.

In a study done by Best Colleges, 62 percent of college women have abnormal eating patterns.

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Substance Abuse Addiction  

Partying in college has become the social norm for any type of student. Along with these parties comes alcohol and drug use that may end up being taken in large amounts.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism stated that:

  • About 80 percent of college students drink
  • 1,825 students, ages 18 to 24, die each year from alcohol-related injuries
  • About 25 percent of college students report academic consequences of their drinking
  • More than 150,000 students develop an alcohol-related health problem

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If I have a mental illness going into college, how can I prepare myself?

It’s always best to talk with your parents about your mental illness. This way you can figure out the right approach to take for college. Do you need to seek medical services first before you can go to college? Parents are the best supporters you will have so be open with them. Once you seek help from these medical services, your therapist can assist with your long-term scheduling.

The best universities to select are the ones that provide students the best types of medicinal programs in response to mental illnesses. Other students might be facing similar struggles when dealing with their mental illness, so find a school that can provide the best treatment for you. These services can easily be found through your school’s website.

According to US News, “some schools, like Cornell University, reach out to students during the summer to request their medical history and tell them about campus services.”

After your first year of college, figure out a schedule for your upcoming college years. It’s best to time manage wisely and prepare early for the next transition of your life.

I am currently a junior studying News-Editorial Journalism and minoring in Spanish and Global Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. For my free time, I enjoy playing the piano, choreographing hip-hop dancing, taking photographs and traveling the world.

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