Thursday, November 8, 2012

College Students Discuss Mental Health Experiences

With colleges throughout the U.S. reporting dramatic increases in the number of students with mental health conditions in general and severe illnesses in particular, a new report from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) may be valuable for colleges and universities as well as the students they educate. In the NAMI-conducted Web-based survey of students diagnosed with a mental health condition who were currently enrolled or who had dropped out in the preceding five years, nearly two-thirds of the drop outs said that they did so because of reasons related to their mental health. There was a wide range of ratings by the students of their school's mental health services and resources, with some schools rated as excellent and others as lacking in key areas that would benefit students with mental health problems. The report offers suggestions based on the students' survey responses for colleges on services and support programs that would increase the chances that students can remain on campus, since as the report points out, "[h]igher education is the foundation for securing stable employment and achieving financial independence."

In the survey, 82% of respondents were women; depression and bipolar illness were the most common diagnoses, accounting for 51% of the reported disorders. Substance abuse, at just 1% was the least reported disorder in the survey. Students described what would have helped them stay in school, why they chose to disclose or not disclose their illness to campus personnel, and how aware they were of the college's mental health services and supports. NAMI researchers provided tips for colleges in a range of categories. NAMI said the report "is the first step in a larger initiative to support colleges and students."

Read the full report here. For more on this topic, see articles in Psychiatric News and Psychiatric Services. For information on APA's College Mental Health Caucus, send an e-mail to

(image: Lisa F. Young/


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