College freshman are experiencing more mental health problems than ever, according to a study conducted at UCLA‘s Higher Education Research Institute.
“More students are arriving on campus with problems, needing support, and today’s economic factors are putting a lot of extra stress on college students, as they look at their loans and wonder if there will be a career waiting for them on the other side.” said Brian Van Brunt, director of counseling at Western Kentucky University and president of the American College Counseling Association.
“The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2010” surveyed over 200,000 full-time freshman students at four-year colleges and found that a significant percentage of students rated their mental health as “below average.” Additionally, merely 52 percent of students said their emotional health was above average. In 1985, it was 64 percent.
Campus counselors believe that the increase in poor mental health is related to the slumping economy. Not only are parents wiping out their life savings to pay for their children’s education, but students are worried about their own piling student debt and the glum prospects at finding a job.
The study also found that women were more likely to experience poor mental health than men.
Though it may seem that the college survey leaves little room for optimism, more students expressed a positive outlook towards their higher education. Seventy-three percent said that a college education would increase their earning power.
“Despite the fact that students are concerned about the economy and stressed out… they’re still really optimistic about the college experience,” lead author John Pryor said.
To me, this study doesn’t reveal anything new. College freshmen are prone to stress. Their dealing with a new life and a new set of responsibilities. True, the recent recession may have added to students’ stress, but it is no surprise to me that almost half of students are experiencing “below average” mental health.