Going to college is a dream for millions of Americans, yet those with psychiatric disabilities may question if it’s even a possibility. While mental illness may add extra considerations to the process of attending college, there are many options available to turn this goal into a reality. Current college students utilize campus mental health services more than any generation before them, showing that students are taking charge of their mental health and that colleges have services in place to help. In this guide, learn more about common mental illnesses, support systems, and how to request accommodations.
The State of Mental Illness on College Campuses
Mental illness is a serious issue on today’s college campuses, and the statistics below give readers a sense just how much these students depend on comprehensive support mechanisms at their schools.
A study by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that approximately 86 percent of students with a psychiatric disability left school without completing their degrees.
Some 80 to 90 percent of college students who commit suicide had not received assistance from their college’s counseling center.
In an APA study of 275 faculty members, 56 percent said they didn’t know how to work with students who had ‘hidden’ disabilities.
Almost a third of all college students said they had been so depressed in the previous year that they struggled to function.
Mental Health Issues Affecting College Students
Only in recent decades has mental illness lost some of its taboo status. For centuries the topic was swept under the rug, but as society has evolved, it’s become part of the national conversation. Half a century ago, college may have seemed impossible to students with psychiatric disabilities, but today’s campuses are rapidly working to improve and expand mental health services and create environments that are welcoming to students coping with mental illness. In addition to having on-campus psychiatrists and counselors, nonprofit organizations are also starting to develop campus chapters. Below are some of the common mental illnesses seen on college campuses.
- Addiction and Substance Use Disorders
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD)
- Anxiety Disorders
- Bipolar Disorder
- Eating Disorders
- Depression / Suicide
- Sleeping Issues and Disorders
Addiction and Substance Use Disorders
Like other forms of addiction, overdependence on drugs and other substances is due to a complex brain disease that causes individuals to continue overusing substances even though this behavior causes harm to themselves and to those around them. Statistics show that approximately 80 percent of college students have abused alcohol, while the abuse of drugs like Xanax and Valium increased by 450 percent between 1993 and 2005. The causes of addiction are multi-faceted and intertwined, and include genetic predispositions, environmental factors, and the use of drugs that are known to be highly addictive.
Substance abuse in college can quickly derail a student’s future if it goes unchecked, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Learn more by reviewing our guide about Substance Abuse in College.