Causes of Mental Illness in College Students  

Ginger Abbot

Nov 1, 2022

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Causes of Mental Illness in College Students  

College students face tons of stress from classes and social interactions. In fact, 44% of students have experienced symptoms of anxiety or depression. Many campuses have resources, but it’s important to know the root of the problem. So, pay attention to these common causes of mental illness in college students. 

1. The Academic Pressure 

Many students feel like they need to succeed academically. They push themselves to do well in classes to graduate and get a job right out of college. The pressure can come from internal or social expectations. Plus, they’ve invested money and time into their courses. They might also feel pressure from their parents who invested in their tuition. 

To succeed, undergraduates often overwork themselves or end up procrastinating. The stress can make it harder to focus in class or lead to anxiety disorders. To help reduce academic stress it’s important to prioritize what matters. Undergraduates should focus on tasks that enhance their well-being. 

Another thing undergraduates should do is maintain a balanced lifestyle. That includes a mix of work and social activities. Positive self-talk and forgiving your mistakes can help as well. 

2. The Financial Challenges 

Paying for tuition is one of the most common causes of mental illness in college students. The average cost for in-state tuition is $9,580. Many undergraduates end up taking out loans, which can take years to pay off. Undergraduates are also responsible for expenses such as textbooks and room and board. To cover these expenses students sometimes take second jobs. The pressure of balancing work and school can lead to anxiety. 

To help relieve financial stress undergraduates should create goals and plan ahead. For example, you could set a goal to save up a certain amount of money by the end of the semester. In addition, build an emergency fund and keep track of your spending. 

3. The Pressure to Figure Out the Future  

College is the time when students start figuring out  their next steps. They have to pick a major and consider their career path. For those still undecided, this can cause anxiety. In addition, some people choose broader majors, like English. As an English major, you have multiple career paths, such as being a teacher or writer. The more choices students have the more stressed they feel. 

The pressure to have your life figured out after college can lead to mental health issues. Instead of seeing graduation as a deadline, celebrate your positive achievement. In addition, focus on the present moment and don’t compare yourself to others.

4.  The Rise of Social Media 

As of 2020, the average user spends about 145 minutes on social media per day. Social media can have negative impacts, such as online bullying. Also, people often compare their lives to others. When undergraduates see posts of their classmates having fun it lowers their self-esteem.

Therefore, try spending less time on social media platforms. Turn off notifications and only check your accounts at certain times of the day. Also, only follow accounts that bring your positivity and unfollow negative users. 

5. The Attitudes About Mental Health 

While mental health is less stigmatized, it is still harder for students to talk about. They may worry about the reactions of others or feel misunderstood. So, often those suffering from anxiety or depression may just hide it. In fact, 10% of college students have a mental illness they haven’t been diagnosed or treated for. 

Therefore, teachers and students should learn more about the signs of mental illness. Also, schools should advertise campus resources, such as counseling, more often. In addition, offer mental health screening tools for freshmen. 

6. The Transitional Period 

The transition into college is another one of the causes of mental illness in college students. Undergraduates are living on their own and taking on more responsibilities. In addition, some students experience homesickness, which can lead to depression. Plus, there is social pressure to make new friends and get involved on campus. 

One of the ways to lower your stress is to let go of societal expectations. Establish a routine early on as well. Plan out when you want to study and grab meals. Having some consistency can reduce anxiety. In addition, stay connected with your parents to prevent loneliness. 

7. An Unhealthy Lifestyle

Many college students don’t get enough sleep and eat poorly. To keep up with the academic pressure students often pull all-nighters. Plus, to maintain a social life some undergraduates sacrifice sleep to stay out and party. 

However, sleep is important for your mental health. Not enough sleep can cause you to become moody and impact your relationships. Also, without enough sleep it’s harder to focus, lowering your academic performance. You want to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep. To do this, create a consistent sleep schedule even on weekends. In addition, turn off electronics before bed and try to do something relaxing. 

Along with lack of sleep, students aren’t always eating nutritious meals. Since they have limited time in between classes, it’s easy to grab an unhealthy snack. However, sugary foods can create a rush of positive feelings followed by a crash. One way to eat healthier is to carry nutritious snacks, such as apples or nuts, in your bag. 

Top Causes of Mental Illness in College Students

College is time for exploration and figuring out your career path. For many students, it comes with added stress. To help address mental health issues, we need to first understand them. So, review this list of the common causes of mental illness in college students and take action. 

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