Mental Illness in College Students Increased 16%

August 17, 2017

Mental Illness in College Students Increased 16%

By Perry Shumway
August 17, 2017

Mental Illness in College Students Increased 16%

By Perry Shumway
Sad looking woman

One in four young adults, between the ages of 18 and 24, have a diagnosable mental illness. Mental illness and health issues in college students have increased dramatically since 2000.

More than 11 percent of college students have been diagnosed or treated for anxiety in 2016 and more than 10 percent reported being diagnosed or treated for depression.

64 percent of young adults who are no longer in college are not attending college because of a mental health related reason, according to the CSC. Depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder are the primary diagnoses of these young adults.

A.P.A Symptoms of Diagnoses

Depression Symptoms:

  • Mood: Sadness, feelings of being overwhelmed, feelings of hopelessness, and feelings of powerlessness
  • Behavioral: Changes in sleep habits, sleeping more or difficulty sleeping. Appetite changes, including either a loss of appetite or overeating
  • Cognitive: Seeing a glass ‘half-empty,’ having trouble concentrating and paying attention, resulting in difficulty in reading and completing work tasks


  • Mood: fearfulness
  • Behavioral: irritability,  sweating, dizziness, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, muscle pain and tension, headaches, frequent upset stomach or diarrhea
  • Cognitive: trouble concentrating, feelings of stress and apprehension

Bipolar Disorder:

  • Mood: mood swings, sadness, elevated mood, anger, anxiety, apathy, apprehension, euphoria, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest, or loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  • Behavioral: irritability, disorganized behavior, aggression, agitation, crying, excess desire for sex, hyperactivity, impulsivity, restlessness, or self-harm
  • Cognitive: unwanted thoughts, delusion, lack of concentration, racing thoughts, or slowness in activity

Without adequate treatment, young adults experiencing a mental health issue are more likely to receive lower GPAs, drop out of college, or be unemployed than their peers who do not have a mental health challenge. 

Get the help you or your friends need as soon as possible.


According to mental health research conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):

  • One in four students has a diagnosable illness
  • 40% do not seek help
  • 80% feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities
  • 50% have become so anxious that they struggled in school 

What You Can Do

  1. Be aware of yourself and others for these symptoms
  2. Be an active listener
  3. Avoid criticizing or belittling
  4. Reach out for help (know the proper channels/people)

Click on Best Colleges for more information about what you can do and helpful resources.