Faculty Spotlight: Current Mental Health Trends

Depression and anxiety continue to be the top two mental health concerns on college campuses, with eating disorders a close third. While most college students may not meet criteria for a clinical diagnosis – it’s important to consider that the symptoms of these mental health issues are just as concerning. Students may feel that they do not have a problem, or it is not worth seeking help, because they do not meet criteria for a diagnosis, but this does not mean that the symptoms of depression, anxiety, or an eating disorder cannot be impairing, distressing, and significantly disruptive to their daily and academic functioning.

The infographic below from the National Alliance of Mental Health highlights some of the mental health trends among college students:

While mental health concerns are being taken more seriously by college campuses across the United States, a worrisome percentage of college students are not seeking help. This is could be due to stigma and unawareness of mental health symptoms – which if not treated, may escalate into a clinical diagnosis with detrimental outcomes. While a healthy amount of stress and anxiety is normal, especially during college, depressive symptoms may be easier to recognize. Below are some of the symptoms of depression to watch out for:

  • Emotionally, the student may seem:
    • Increasingly sad, blue, or down, irritable, hopeless or helpless, or excessively guilty
  • The student may display any of the following behaviors:
    • Diminished interest in daily activities, seeming more fatigued or less having less energy, expressing major changes in sleep or appetite, social isolation or withdrawal, decreased motivation, difficulty completing assignments and concentrating in class, or expressing thoughts of death or suicide

With mental health concerns continuing to increase across college campuses, if you notice changes in a student’s emotions or behavior, it’s better to check-in than to not say something! Worst case scenario, you’ve expressed concern and have maybe prompted the student to think about how they have been thinking, feeling, and acting. Lastly, if you notice a student in need, please refer them to resources like the 24-hour Crisis Line ((206) 461-3222) or the Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741) for additional help.

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