Thursday, February 5, 2015

High Numbers of Students Entering College Report Poor Emotional Health in Previous Year

Record numbers of students entering college are self-reporting poor emotional health, according to a report on a national survey titled “The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2014.”

Students were asked to rate their emotional health in relation to other people their age, in addition to the frequency with which they felt depressed. Additionally, the proportion of students who “frequently” felt depressed rose to 9.5 percent, 3.4 percentage points higher than in 2009.

The survey, conducted by the Cooperative UCLA University Higher Education Research Institute for almost 50 years, assesses hundreds of matters ranging from political views to exercise habits.

The report also noted that students with different types of disabilities say they are feeling depressed more frequently. Of those students who indicated being on the autism spectrum, 22.4 percent reported being “frequently” depressed. Over 17 percent of students who reported having a chronic illness or ADHD were “frequently” depressed.

Students who felt depressed more frequently reported behaviors reflecting disengagement—they were about twice as likely to “frequently” come late to class and “frequently” fall asleep in class. Further, they were less likely to “frequently” engage with their classmates by studying with other students or working with other students on group projects, according to the report.

The report concluded, “With counseling centers on campus reporting a record number of visits and increased wait times, it is clear that campuses have more work to do to assist students experiencing emotional health issues.”

The APA Caucus on College Mental Health will meet during at the 2015 annual meeting in Toronto on Monday, May 18, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Toronto Room, Convention Floor, Fairmont Royal York. APA members interested in college mental health are encouraged to attend.

For more on the subject of college mental health, see the Psychiatric News article “College Students Explain Decisions About Getting MH Care.”
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