The #1 Problem Among College Students Is Now Anxiety

Stressed College Student

For many years the number one problem among college students was depression. In an ever growing competitive atmosphere, the biggest concern in higher education has shifted to anxiety.

According to a recent study by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State, of the 100,000 college student observed, more than half of students seeking help at campus clinics reported anxiety as an issue.

Researchers spoke with mental health counselors at various colleges and found that students are having a harder time dealing with the stress of college than previous generations.

The main cause of this anxiety? Helicopter parents.

“They can’t tolerate discomfort or having to struggle,” Dan Jones, director of counseling and psychological services at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, told the New York Times. “A primary symptom is worrying, and they don’t have the ability to soothe themselves.”

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In 2010, a national study showed that nearly half of college students seeking counseling had serious mental illness. Those students outnumbered a 2000 study by 100%.

Another study in 2010 from the American College Counseling Association discovered that 24% of college students seeking mental-health help in college were on psychiatric medication compared to 17% in 2000.

Other symptoms of college life include stress, family, academic performance, and relationship problems.

The following chart showcases the main issues faced by today’s college students:

College Student Health Issues in 2015College Student Health Issues in 2015

  • Ted Frank

    I’m not surprised. College students are coddled too much by their parents, even when they are actually AT college.

  • Marques

    Due to a struggling market with little job prospects there is much more pressure for all of us to put ourselves in the best position to “make it”. Add that to the high cost of college-the sacrifice the many parents are making- and the realities of how competitive the job market is, parents can unintentionally add to the stress of their children in college. There no longer is the luxury of having the attitude that attending college will give you exposure, broaden your perspective and help you discover what you might be interested in doing with your life. Children are forced to take on the college experience as a business venture that has high stakes. These children (including many adults) are ill=equipped and ill-prepared, not having the emotional coping skills to go into an environment that requires such great resolve. As a former psychiatric cllinician working in an inpatient psychiatric unit, we would often admit young adults because of anxiety and depression associated with difficulties in college. These children often spoke of the pressure to succeed was too great. It is true that some parents may coddle their children, but in my experience it was the parents who added pressure to do exceptionally well in college and a society that sends the message that a persons significance is equated to how successful and popular they are, is what does the greatest damage. Another sad reality is that even after college many young adults experience greater anxiety associated with the need to immediately secure a job, so they can pay the college loans back.