Mental Health in Higher Education: Common Issues and Facts

by John Griffith

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It is crucial since it can affect how a student thinks, feels, and acts. It’s a key component of overall well-being and is pivotal in academic success, personal development and quality of life. The mental health of students in college has been increasing. Over 60% of college students have faced one or two mental problems. Mental health in higher education must be taken seriously since its importance cannot be overstated. Students can undergo various mental issues like bipolar, depression and an eating disorder, among many, which needs intense care. It’s, therefore, important to understand the scope of these mental health issues, identify the contributing factors, and explore effective strategies to address this crisis.

woman who has graduated

7 Common Mental Health Issues in Higher Education

Here’re 7 common mental health issues in higher education that you should know.


According to the national institute of mental health, 30% of college students struggle with everyday activities due to depression. Most struggle to get out of bed, maintain a healthy focus on their studies and exercise habits, and write their papers, among many others. Depression can lead someone to feel helpless and ends up having suicidal thoughts. And because suicide is the third leading cause of death among youths today, college students must have access to depression care and mental health literacy.

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#Anxiety disorder

A 2013 study found that anxiety is the most common mental health issue among college students seeking medical attention. There are multiple types of anxiety disorders. While some are less severe, they can affect students’ ability to thrive in higher education. Research on the cause is still ongoing, but most scientists believe that most anxiety disorder develop from a combination of factors such as brain chemistry, life event, genetics and personality.

#Eating disorder

The eating disorder results from a distorted perception of body image coupled with obsessive behavior involving food. Although some people may think that eating disorders are a lifestyle choice, the reality is that they are documented psychiatric illnesses that are dangerous. Many factors can contribute to the development of this disorder. Some of these include hormones, peer pressure, stress and trauma. The Multi-service Eating Disorder Association found that 15% of people aged 17 to 24 have some type of this disorder, while 20% of college students have or have an eating disorder.

stressed woman in front of computer


The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that 1 in 4 college students experience academic issues because of drinking. 20% of those students have symptoms of an alcohol use disorder. It is important to remember that higher education students are not kids with frivolous issues but adults facing real adult world issues. The number of addicts can be heightened in students with a history of addiction in their family or with confounding mental health disorders. It is very important to support students facing addiction earlier.

#Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder usually begins in early adulthood. It’s common with an episode of depression. The recent epidemiological data suggest that exceptional intellectual ability may be associated with bipolar disorder, placing the student at risk of this illness. In most papers, students with excellent school performance had a fourfold increased risk of developing bipolar compared to average students. Students presenting symptoms of depression should be diagnosed to confirm the possibility of having the primary bipolar illness.

man in front of laptop

#Post-traumatic stress disorder

Students who have experienced trauma or had a stressful childhood will likely develop this illness. Students with PTSD are likely to have mood change, behave more immaturely than they are and exhibit erratic behavior. The defining feature of this disease is the flashback of the traumatic experience. It has mental and physical repercussions such as self-harm, temper and fear. Students with this disorder need good mental health support from families and friends.


Students dragonized with depression and bipolar can experience intense hopelessness and worthlessness. The sadness extends to the point that they think about suicide. Controlling the feeling of a mood disorder can be a long and daunting process, but students must be exposed to mental health awareness to help them overcome this traumatizing episode of their life.

university books on table

5 Facts of Mental Health in Higher Education + Statistics

It’s important to understand that mental illness can affect any student. In 2020, one in 5 students experienced a mental health condition in a given year, and one in six younger students experienced a major depressive episode. Additionally, suicide is the leading cause of death in America. It is the second cause of death to college students and has encountered more than 45,979 American lives in 2020.

Family and friends can be important influences to help students get the help they need. In 2020 during the pandemic, only 20% of adults received any mental help treatment in the past year, which includes 10% who received counseling or therapy from a professional. Family and friends can help students with mental health by allowing them to attend conferences and seminars for mental health awareness.

Students often face significant challenges that adversely impact their mental health, leading to stress and burnout. They can alleviate these pressures and promote overall well-being in disparate ways. For instance, students benefit from the assistance of paper writing services like CustomWritings to have essays written for them. These services are a valuable resource that offers expert support in crafting high-quality academic papers. They will help you reduce academic pressure and allow you to focus on other aspects of your studies and personal life.

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Students with mental health are as productive as others, especially when they know how to control their condition well. Most teachers do not know if their students have mental issues, but if the teacher knows the condition, they often report good attention and ensure they are productive in their studies.

Most people with mental health are less likely to be violent. 3%-5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals with serious mental health issues. People with severe mental illness are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crimes than the general population. You probably know a student with mental illness and don’t realize it because most of them are active, excellent in their writing and studies.

Half of the mental disorder shows up at the age of 14. And three-quarter of mental health disorders begin before the age of 24. Unfortunately, only ½ of the adolescent children diagnosed with this disorder get treated. Early mental health support can help the child before problems interfere with other developmental needs that might affect them during their higher education.

man in the library

Prioritize Your Mental Health Today!

Mental health in education is a pressing issue that requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders. While the challenges are significant, the potential for positive change is immense. When considering the epidemiology of mental health problems in higher education students, it’s important to pay attention to subclinical distress and diagnoses of major mental illness. Let’s join hands and take action to create supportive and nurturing environments within our educational institutions. By advocating for increased awareness, access to counseling services, and implementing stress-reduction programs, we can pave the way for a healthier and successful academic journey for students.

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John Griffith

John Griffith is a young, passionate journalist. Writing has been John’s hobby ever since he was a boy. He has worked in some of the UK’s most successful news portals over the course of his professional career but found his forever home at Archzine.