College student stressed while on laptop

college students are showing a significant rise in diagnosed mental health conditions. Photo courtesy of Tim Gouw/Unsplash

According to the American College Health Association (ACHA), college students are showing a significant rise in diagnosed mental health conditions, increasing the possibility of hindering academic success. Utilizing a national data survey from the ACHA, researchers wanted to examine changes within diagnoses and treatments among 12 mental health conditions on college campuses nationwide. The data survey consisted of roughly 450,000 undergraduate student responses from 2009-2015. Anxiety and depression continue to be the most prevalent mental health conditions among college students. Anxiety diagnoses and treatment increased from 9.3 percent in 2009 to 14.9 percent in 2015. Depression diagnosed and treatment also increased from 9 percent in 2009 to 12.2 percent in 2015. Anxiety is now the most common mental health condition seen in college students, at approximately 15 percent. 

Dr. Sara Oswalt, department chair of kinesiology, health and nutrition and lead author of the publication, emphasized culture and prevention for mental health conditions. 

“We have to figure out a way — not only here at UTSA, but as well as all campuses need to look at how we can support students struggling with mental health. What preventative strategies are we creating? What type of climate are we creating that reinforces stressful practices? What kind of support are we giving our students related to healthy eating, exercise opportunities and reinforcing that physical health is just as important as mental health,” Oswalt said. 

Oswalt stated she was unsure of the factors that could potentially influence mental health among college students. 

The authors trend analysis was consistent with the observed rise of mental health conditions. However, many questions still need to be answered, such as whether the mental health of college students is deteriorating and if help-seeking behaviors are increasing among students. 

Students at UTSA feel finances impact stress and mental health of college students.“I think that finances are one of the leading factors in the increase of stress and mental health cases. As college gets more expensive, many deal with the lack of money and worry about it every day. I deal with stress in several ways whether it is listening to music, going to the gym or treating myself after a stressful day,” said Noah Flach, sophomore finance major. 

Anxiety and stress increase among young adults

Even though students identify finances as a stressor, they feel the support of family and friends is important. “Friends and family really help to find a place where you’re comfortable to be you. Telling myself to keep it moving, you’ve gone too far to stop and if you can’t do it for yourself do it for those around you,” said Jarren Reed, sophomore business marketing major. 

Oswalt lastly stressed the importance of understanding UTSA as a community. It is imperative that a positive culture must be established for a successful environment for students.

“We are unsure of what’s causing the rise of mental health conditions. There are several theories suggesting the potential increase, one being an occurrence before coming to college. Things the typical college student deals with today is vastly different than 30-40 years ago” – Oswalt

The study also displayed college campuses had a rise of 4.3 percent, between the years of 2009-2015, in students seeking help for mental health conditions from their counseling services. 

However, Oswalt also highlighted the importance of understanding unsuccessful strategies, and observing the support behind the students who experience anxiety and depression. “Our counseling center is a great resource, I regularly refer to it for my students if they are struggling with something,” Oswalt said. Oswalt offered various recommendations on how students can maintain good mental health while in college. 

Most important was seeking help and meeting with a professional if experiencing potential symptoms of anxiety or depression. UTSA students can pre-pay for counseling services through their student services fee, so they are able to visit and discuss concerns within their life. Students have several options in obtaining information about counseling services on the Main Campus and Downtown Campus. 

Roadrunners can visit www.utsa.edu/counsel to schedule appointments, locate walk in hours and helpful hotlines in case of emergencies. For Main Campus students, Counseling Services is located directly across from the Recreational Center. Downtown Campus students can locate Counseling Services within the Frio St. Building (4.556). 

In addition to counseling, individuals are allocated other resources that may help manage stress. Such as The Tomás Rivera Center in the JPL to recieve help for academics, along with getting involved with student organizations to improve studying habits and time management. 

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