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Boston University Study Reveals Increased Depression in College Students

A nationwide survey by Boston University of nearly 33,000 college students revealed an increase in depression in college students.

Anxiety and depression they continue to rise and have peaked due to various factors. The researcher cited that the students felt immense stress due to the pandemic, political unrest, inequality and systemic racism. Mental illness had already been an epidemic before the closures, but last year it made existing conditions worse.

“Half of the students in the fall of 2020 tested positive for depression and / or anxiety,” says Sarah Ketchen Lipson, a Boston University mental health researcher and co-director of the national survey released on February 11, 2021. The Healthy Minds Network administered the survey online during the Fall 2020 semester.

The survey found that depression in college students had risen to 83 percent, leading to a decline in their academic performance. Additionally, two-thirds of college students reported struggling with loneliness and isolation. During the pandemic, mental disorders in young people reached an all-time high. This reveals the overwhelming toll that the pandemic and social distancing measures have taken on this age group.

Lipson says that results of the test show that university staff must adapt to the mental health needs of students. She says this:

“Teachers must be flexible with deadlines and remind students that their talents are not demonstrated solely by their ability to earn a higher grade during a challenging semester.”

She adds that teachers can ease the burden on students by doing class assignments at 5 p.m. Many teachers set homework deadlines for midnight or early morning, which encourages students to stay up late. Get a good night’s sleep it is essential for mental health, which is why teachers should consider it when setting deadlines.

How Instructors Can Help College Students Through a Mental Health Crisis

Additionally, Lipson says instructors who notice a student missing consecutive classes should contact them. In this way, the student will know that they have support and that someone cares how they are doing.

“Even in larger classes, where individualized outreach is more difficult, instructors can send emails to the entire class reinforcing the idea that they care about their students not just as students but as people, and circulating information about the students. campus resources for mental health and wellness, ”says Lipson.

It also says that instructors should be aware that some student demographics carry a higher burden of mental illness.

“Students of color and low-income students are more likely to be suffering the loss of a loved one due to COVID,” says Lipson. They are also “more likely to face financial stress.” All of these factors can seriously affect a person’s mental health and academic performance.

Lipson added that instructors should inform college students about the mental health services they can use. Providing students with information on how to access services that emphasize prevention, coping, and resilience could make a big difference. Data from the fall 2020 survey revealed that much of the anxiety and depression in University students who are diagnosed with anxiety do not receive adequate treatment.

“Often times, depression in college students will only be addressed when they are in a mental health crisis, requiring more urgent resources,” says Lipson. “But how can we create systems to promote wellness before they get to that point?”

She has a suggestion:

“All students should receive mental health education, ideally as part of the required curriculum.”

However, he says that the depression that spikes in college students doesn’t just affect college students. The survey findings reflect a far-reaching trend of deteriorating mental health in young adults across the board.

Why do so many people in today’s world have poor mental health

“I think mental health is getting worse [across the US population]And on top of that, we are now collecting more data on these trends than ever before, ”says Lipson. “We know that the stigma of mental health is decreasing and that is one of the main reasons we can collect better data. People are being more open, they have more dialogue about it and we can better identify that people are struggling. “

Lipson says that, in general, Americans may have worse mental health in today’s world due to several factors. She believes that the pandemic, divisive social media, and changing social values ​​play a huge role in the mental health crisis. In today’s world, he says that values ​​have become more extrinsically motivated than intrinsically motivated. Basically, people care more about making money, being popular, and being successful rather than being an honest member of their community.

Not to mention, historically high student debt puts college students under enormous pressure.

Student debt is very stressful, ”says Lipson. “You are more predisposed to experiencing anxiety the more debt you have. And research indicates that suicide is directly related to financial well-being. “

Depression in college students increases the pressure.

Currently, more than 22 million young people are enrolled in colleges and universities. Lipson says that students generally notice lifelong onset of mental illness during the “traditional college years of life.” This shows why the prevention and treatment measures taken in these crucial years could have a great impact.

The good news from the survey was that the stigma surrounding mental illness has dramatically decreased over the years. The survey revealed that 94% of students said they would not judge someone for needing help for a mental illness. Lipson says this indicates that those students would likely seek help themselves for a mental disorder. However, nearly half of the students said they were concerned about what others would think if they sought help.

“We are harder on ourselves and more critical on ourselves than on other people; We call that perceived versus personal stigma, ”says Lipson. “Students must realize; your colleagues are not judging you. “

Final thoughts: large survey reveals worsening mental health among college students

Unfortunately, the pandemic and rising tensions in the United States have affected the mental health of college students. The survey results appear consistent with a general deterioration in mental health across the board.

However, the Boston University survey revealed that students seem more comfortable seeking help for mental breakdowns. Due to the fading of the stigma surrounding mental illness, people have become more transparent about their struggles. This means that students may seek help more often to get through these difficult times.

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