College students have a lot on their mind. Classes, roommates, part-time jobs, finances, & career plans are just a few of the many topics that fight for their attention every day. With so many stresses and distractions, it’s easy for a student to ignore their own health. One way to make sure you’re not neglecting something as important as your emotional well-being is to keep a mental health checklist for college students close at hand.
Statistics on the College Mental Health Crisis
College has always been a challenging and stressful experience. Unfortunately, as described in the June 1, 2022, edition of the Journal of Affective Disorders, the college mental health crisis has become considerably worse in recent years:
- Between 2013 and 2021, the prevalence of mental illness among college students increased by almost 50%.
- During the 2020-2021 academic year, more than 60% of college students had symptoms that met the clinical criteria for at least one mental health disorder.
The article referenced above isn’t the only report to raise concerns about the mental wellness of college students.
In 2001, the American College Health Association’s annual National College Health Assessment provided a more detailed look at the problem. This report, which was based on survey responses from more than 33,000 students at 41 institutions, included the following statistics that relate to the college mental health crisis:
- 27.4% of the surveyed college students said they had been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at some point in their life.
- 21.7% of the students said they had been diagnosed with a depressive disorder at some point in their life.
- 72.8% of survey respondents said they were experiencing either moderate or severe psychological distress.
- The rate of moderate psychological distress was highest among cisgender female students (52.1%).
- The rate of severe psychological distress was highest among transgender or gender non-conforming students (22%).
- 9.6% of college students who responded to the survey said they had engaged in self-harm. This included 30.6% of transgender or gender non-conforming students, 9.9% of cisgender female students, and 6.3% of cisgender male students.
- More than 25% of surveyed students said they had experienced thoughts of suicide within the previous 12 months.
- 2.7% of students who responded to the survey said they had attempted suicide in the past year.
Importance of Taking Care of Your Mental Health as a Student
It’s no secret that your college years can be extremely important. The skills you develop and the relationships you form as you’re pursuing your degree can have lifelong impact. To make sure you get the most out of your time in college, you need to make sure you’re functioning at your absolute best. This includes taking care of your mental health.
The mental health checklist for college students that we discuss in the next section can help you prevent small problems from becoming major concerns. It can also help you form healthy habits that will serve you well in the years to come.
Mental Health Checklist for College Students
To protect your mental health, preparation is key. This brief mental health checklist for college students contains a few simple yet important reminders:
- Visit your school’s counseling center. Find out what types of services they offer and how you can access these services if you need them. Don’t wait for a crisis to occur before you explore your treatment options.
- Learn about the other support organizations that your college offers. This may include peer counseling, tutoring, and career advisement. Participating in these services can minimize stress related to your academic performance and employment search.
- Practice effective self-care. This includes getting an appropriate amount of sleep, eating nutritious foods, and exercising on a regular basis. Yes, you will be busy while you’re at school. And yes, you will be tempted to stray from these healthy habits. But making self-care a part of your daily or weekly schedule can be extremely beneficial for your physical health and your mental well-being.
- Stay connected. It’s easy to become isolated, even when you’re surrounded by other people. Simply living in the dorms or sitting in a crowded classroom can’t protect you from loneliness. Find people who share your interests and values. Join clubs that are focused on topics that are important to you, or that you want to learn more about. Keep in touch with friends and family at home.
What to Do if You Are Struggling with Mental Health During College?
Following a mental health checklist for college students can help you avoid certain problems. However, preparation isn’t always enough.
If your mental health starts to decline, your first impulse might be to keep quiet and try to push through. Following that impulse can lead you down a very dark path. Mental health problems don’t simply vanish if you ignore them. In many cases, they won’t simply persist, they’ll get worse.
The first thing to do when you’re concerned about your mental health is to talk to someone. If you have a close friend or trusted family member that you can rely on, tell them what’s going on. Sometimes, merely putting your emotions into words can help you identify solutions or decide what to do next.
If a conversation with someone you’re close to doesn’t help, make an appointment with either a trained peer counselor or a professional. Once you’ve described what you’ve been experiencing, they can assess your needs and recommend the most appropriate next steps.
Depending on the nature and severity of your mental health struggles, their recommendation may include inpatient or outpatient treatment. Remember: There is no single ideal course of treatment for mental health concerns. What’s most important is finding the type and level of care that meets your specific needs.
Begin Treating Your Mental Health as a College Student Today
Montare Behavioral Health provides an array of customized mental health programming for adults, including specialized care for college students. We offer multiple treatment options for college students who have been struggling with symptoms of anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and a host of additional mental health concerns. Contact us today to learn how we can help.