Select Page

Post University Blog

College students are attempting to navigate a unique moment in their lives, one in which they are responsible for managing the pressure of completing the requirements for their degree while simultaneously balancing personal obligations and work responsibilities. Even in the best of times, it can be a stressful and daunting experience — and in today’s complex world, it is becoming even more difficult to navigate.

The state of mental health in college students has become a hot-button issue, especially as the data continues to show that the number of college students suffering from anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders is on the rise. Colleges and universities around the country are currently working to find new and innovative ways to support their students and provide them with the resources they need to protect and improve their mental well-being.

Understanding the Mental Health Crisis Among College Students

The stark reality of the matter is, that college students’ mental health is on the decline, and the mental health crisis among college students is growing. According to Inside Higher Ed, a recent Healthy Minds survey found that 44% of college students during the 2021-2022 academic year experienced symptoms of depression, while 37% said they experienced feelings of anxiety. An alarming 15% of college students surveyed said they had contemplated suicide.

Although the data is startling, there are hopeful glimmers on the horizon. Today’s college students, while they may be managing more mental health concerns than ever before, are also more likely to seek help and counseling. This emphasizes the importance of having mental health services and resources available to both on-campus and online students.

Recognizing Stress and Anxiety in College Life

Stress and anxiety may present in numerous different ways, so it is essential to be aware of the wide range of symptoms college students may be experiencing.

According to Choosing Therapy, some common signs of stress and anxiety in college students include:

  •    Nervousness or unease
  •    Inability to maintain focus
  •    Uncontrollable worry
  •    Sleep disturbances or insomnia
  •    Missing classes or assignments
  •    Isolation from family, friends, and classmates
  •    Changes in eating habits
  •    Cycles of negative thoughts

The Role of Academic Pressure on Mental Health

Academic pressure, specifically in the collegiate setting, can be quite intense. Students are working to complete courses that are required for their degrees, and failure to perform well in those courses may have an impact on their professional prospects after graduation. Some students experience self-induced pressure to perform well, whereas others are facing intense family pressure or increased pressure from their professors.

Studies have demonstrated that this academic pressure is incredibly detrimental to mental health and well-being. According to the Newport Institute, academic pressure could lead to a variety of mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression. In addition, it could cause low self-esteem and a diminished sense of self-confidence, which may make it more difficult for students to perform well in their classes.

The Impact of Mental Health on Academic Performance

Research has revealed that poor mental health has a negative impact on academic performance and, in turn, may complicate and exacerbate many of the symptoms of anxiety and depression students may experience. Per the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, some research suggests that students who suffer from depression have lower grade-point averages than those who do not, and in general, mental health conditions are associated with low concentration and energy levels, which could have a detrimental impact on academic performance.

How Mental Health Affects Enrollment and Retention

Aside from the correlation between mental health disorders and poor academic performance, there is seemingly a relationship between these conditions and enrollment and retention rates in college as well. According to data published from a Healthy Minds survey, college students who suffer from mental health disorders are twice as likely to drop out of their degree program than those who do not. This emphasizes the central role universities could play in supporting college students’ mental health; when they provide students with needed mental health services and counseling resources, they could improve overall enrollment and retention rates.

Mental Health Challenges Faced by College Athletes

College athletes often face a unique set of challenges while enrolled in their degree programs. Not only is there pressure to perform in the classroom but also on the field — and the fact that many college athletes are attending school on athletic scholarships only adds to that pressure. Mental health concerns among college athletes are on the rise, according to the NCAA, but survey results show that two-thirds of student-athletes are aware of mental health services on campus and know how to access them.

Effective Coping Strategies for College Students

By recognizing the signs and symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions, college students may be more aware of when they need to seek treatment and support. In addition to taking advantage of mental health services on campus, college students could also develop personalized and effective coping strategies that help them better manage their mental health and well-being.

The Importance of Balanced Lifestyle: Eat, Sleep, and Exercise

College students may mistakenly believe that the college lifestyle involves all-night study sessions, parties that last until morning, and an endless array of inexpensive junk food. Though this may be the vision of college life portrayed on screen, the reality of the matter is that college students must achieve a balanced lifestyle in order to protect and improve their mental well-being.

While you are balancing the stress of academics, work, and personal life, you should focus on:

  • Eating a well-balanced diet rich in vitamins and nutrients. Choosing the right meals and eating on a regular schedule helps you feel better both physically and emotionally.
  • Getting proper rest each night. It is actually counterintuitive to stay up all night cramming for an exam. Rather, it is better to study for shorter intervals and prioritize sleep to help ensure you have the energy and concentration levels needed to focus during an exam.
  • Staying physically active. You do not necessarily have to have a high-impact routine, but you should spend at least 20 or 30 minutes a day exercising. Taking walks around campus, completing a virtual yoga class, or going for an evening jog could help immensely.

The Power of Social Connections in Maintaining Mental Health

In an age where everyone is instantly connected to one another, more people are feeling more isolated than ever before. This is particularly true during the college years, when students may be surrounded by new people and places. Students who made an effort to get involved and stay connected with their peers reported having a more positive college experience and were more likely to be aware of mental health services available on campus.

Participation in Student Organizations as a Support System

One of the best ways for students to make new friends on campus is to participate in student organizations. Student clubs and sports teams allow college students to right-size their community and meet new friends who have similar interests. These organizations and teams may serve as an extended support system, especially during this complex and challenging stage of life.

Resources Available for College Students

As colleges and universities begin to recognize the scope and impact of the growing mental health crisis among college students, they are investing in additional resources to help support the students who are enrolled in their degree programs. Along with developing new and innovative resources and mental health services, colleges have to promote their available resources and ensure students know how to access them.

Understanding and Utilizing On-Campus Resources

While surveys continue to show growing mental health concerns among college students, the good news is that students are also becoming increasingly aware of the resources available to them. According to the NCAA, 56% of college athletes know how and when to help a teammate who is experiencing mental health concerns, and 47% of college athletes feel comfortable seeking help from an on-campus mental health services provider. There is still room to improve, yet there is headway being made in this area.

Role of Disability Services in Supporting Students With Mental Health Issues

At colleges and universities around the country, disability services offices are working to expand their services to accommodate the influx of mental health concerns and issues arising on campus. An increasing number of students are listing psychological disorders at the time of their enrollment, which helps ensure they receive additional classroom accommodations. Although this is presenting challenges in resource-strapped disability services offices, these departments are coming up with new and unique ways to assist students in need.

When to Consider a Break: Understanding Medical Leave

According to Mental Health America, medical leave on a college campus is defined as a time when students temporarily unenroll from classes with the intention of continuing enrollment in the future. Taking a medical leave or leave of absence may feel like a setback, particularly if you had a timeline for when you wanted to earn your degree, but it might be the best thing for you in the long term.

The Process of Applying for a Medical Leave

The process of applying for medical leave may vary based on the college or university you attend. In most cases, it is best to contact your academic advisors and ask for more information about the next best steps to take at your school. In addition to providing, you with information about medical leave procedures, your academic advisors may also be able to help you access mental health and wellness services through the university.

Inspiring Stories of Overcoming Mental Health Challenges

If you are experiencing signs of depression or symptoms of anxiety while completing your degree program, the most crucial thing to remember is that you are not alone. Many college students today have been in the same position, and they have been able to rely on on-campus resources and mental health services to help overcome their challenges and move forward toward graduation.

Learning From the Experiences of Other College Students

When you begin to feel a bit hopeless or a little lost, try to take refuge in the experiences of others. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, Sierra is one college student who managed to thrive in the wake of mental health struggles. She was all set to attend college and live on campus, but about a week before she moved into her new dorm, she felt too overwhelmed and stressed out to begin this next stage of life. Rather than giving up entirely, however, Sierra enrolled in a short-term, outpatient treatment program. After completing the program, she felt she had the tools needed to continue moving forward with living on campus and pursuing her degree in psychology.

How Can We Better Support Peers Struggling With Mental Health?

Peer support programs are playing an increasingly critical role in college mental health services. You could help support your peers and classmates who are struggling with mental health by:

  • Listening to your friends when they need to talk
  • Offering them insight into your shared experiences
  • Sharing information about campus resources available
  • Offering to help them access mental health services and resources

Learn More About Mental Health and Wellness Services at Post University

At Post University, we are committed to providing our students with all the support they need as they work to earn their degrees. We proudly offer comprehensive mental health and wellness services, allowing our students to easily access counseling services and other mental wellness resources when needed.

Request more information about Post University today.

Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, don’t hesitate to reach out for support. You are not alone, and there are resources available to help you through difficult times.

If you are in crisis or need immediate assistance, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). This confidential hotline is available 24/7 to provide free and confidential support to individuals in distress. Your call will be answered by a trained crisis worker who can offer guidance, resources, and a listening ear.

Additionally, many colleges and universities offer counseling services and mental health resources for students. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your campus counseling center or student health services for assistance.


Thank you for reading! The views and information provided in this post do not reflect Post University programs and/or outcomes directly. If you are interested in learning more about our programs, you can find a complete list of our programs on our website or reach out directly!

Please note jobs and/or career outcomes highlighted in this blog do not reflect jobs or career outcomes expected from any Post program. To learn more about Post’s programs and their outcomes, please fill out a form to speak with an admissions advisor.