Top Mental Health Challenges Facing College Students and High School (2023)

Suicide Amongst College and High School Students

Top Mental Health Challenges Facing College Students and High School (1)

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among young people. If you ever have any thoughts of suicide, you should seek help immediately. Such thoughts may occur for a number of reasons including family pressure to succeed, a humiliating life experience, bullying, depression, and more. You are far from being alone in having these thoughts; however, most people cannot properly heal without assistance. Reach out to someone you trust as a first step and go from there. You can also always call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (800) 273-TALK or text HOME to 741741 in the US for free and confidential text messaging crisis assistance at all hours of the day and night.

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Below you will find more resources:

  • The Jed Foundation
    The Jed Foundation is dedicated to suicide prevention in teens and young adults. They work with both individuals and schools to develop mental health improvement programs, as well as suicide and substance abuse prevention programs.
  • Suicide Prevention Resource Center
    The Suicide Prevention Resource Center offers extensive resources regarding suicide prevention for individuals of all ages. This particular organization provides a wealth of information on their website including webinars, current events, feature information, and more.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is dedicated to suicide prevention in young people between the ages of 10 and 24 but anyone can call at any time. They offer online tools and resources, live chat, a crisis center location finder, and options for individuals who speak Spanish and those hard of hearing and deaf.
  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
    The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention provides an engaging site for individuals looking to prevent suicide, those who wish to make a difference on their own, and others who want to start a local chapter. You can even listen to stories online regarding people’s personal experiences with suicide and the organization.
  • National Institute of Mental Health
    The National Institute of Mental Health offers immediate assistance during a mental health crisis. They also assist with finding treatment programs, health care providers, mental health studies, and more.
  • Treatment Advocacy Center
    The Treatment Advocacy Center offers facts and warning signs of suicide risk. They aim to eliminate any stigma associated with mental health issues, as well as to ensure that everyone can easily access support through laws and educating policymakers.

Signs of Suicide

People commit suicide for a wide array of reasons. It is often the direct result of a particularly stressful situation in their life that they feel they can no longer face, or because of which they feel they have no reason to continue living. Everyone needs to be aware of the signs and symptoms of suicide so that they can save their own life or the life of another.

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Even when you believe there is no other way to resolve the issues in your life than to pursue suicide, it is critical to understand that you have many other options to ease the pain and suffering you are feeling and that many more people love and care for you than you might realize. The simple act of understanding the cause of suicidal thoughts and tendencies can help make sure you get the right assistance when you most need it.

The primary source of suicidal thoughts is when you face life situations that seem overwhelming. Such scenarios make it incomprehensible to fathom a situation where life will improve or a way that will allow a person to cope and move on. Individuals in these situations become incapable of seeing outside of, or past, the existing crisis situation.

As a result, some people feel taking their life is the only way forward. However, this is far from the reality, and you are far from the only person who struggles with difficult life experiences. In fact, these thoughts are common enough that anyone with a phone has access to 24/7 hotlines, treatment centers designated for suicide prevention, anonymous meetings, and much more to help you get through the difficult times as best you can.

In some cases, genetics may be the source of suicidal behavior and thoughts. Some people are more at risk than others including those who have experienced the loss of a loved one, those with military experience, those in social isolation, those with substance abuse issues, financial issues, legal problems, mental illness, medical conditions, who have been through a bad breakup, experienced unsupportive family life, and more. Young people often attempt suicide because of family conflict, physical or sexual abuse, drug and alcohol misuse, medical issues, physical impairments, pregnancy, bullying, depression, or sexual orientation confusion.

It is important to emphasize that depression is far from the only contributing factor to suicide.

Whether you fear you may be suicidal, or you know someone who may be at risk, saving a life may come down to knowing the signs, such as:

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  • Blanket suicide statements: “I wish I were dead” or “I’m going to kill myself”
  • Stockpiling pills or buying a gun
  • Self-isolation and withdrawal from social activities
  • Mood swings
  • Preoccupation with violence, death, or dying
  • Feelings of being trapped or hopeless
  • Change in sleeping or eating patterns
  • Using drugs or alcohol more than usual
  • Risky behavior
  • Saying goodbye
  • Personality changes
  • Giving away belongings

The warning signs will vary with each person, and sometimes the warning signs are not obvious. It is important to remain in close contact with anyone you feel might be at risk. If you feel you might be at risk, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) any time of the day or night. If you have any of the signs or symptoms of suicide ideation, go see a doctor, reach out to friends or family, call a spiritual or religious advisor, or go to your school counselor. Everyone needs help sometimes. It takes great courage and strength to recognize this and to pursue the help you need. It is an admirable and brave action to seek help, not a sign of weakness!

Signs of Self-Injury

Self-injury, or self-harm, is far different from suicide and suicide attempts. The act of self-injury is not to kill oneself, but rather to simply injure one’s own body intentionally, often as a way to experience relief from frustration, emotional pain, or intense anger. It’s a coping mechanism that some young people and adults use to alleviate tension or stress which is meant to result in a sense of calm. However, many people who self-injure quickly experience feelings of guilt and shame, which results in the return of emotional struggles.

Again, the intent of self-injury is typically not to kill oneself; however, mistakes can be made during a self-harm incident which can lead to unintended death. Each individual will choose a different way to harm themselves for relief including cutting, scratching, burning, carving skin, self-hitting, skin piercing, and inserting objects below the skin’s surface. Most people choose to self-injure specific parts of the body such as arms, legs, or front torso. The injuries from self-harm can be difficult to detect, as they often perform the acts in private and on areas typically not exposed to public viewing.

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It’s believed that the cause of self-injury is derived from the inability to manage emotions and poor coping skills. The exact reasons for self-harm varies from person to person. For some, it provides relief from anxiety, distress, stress, depression, or painful feelings. For others, it is a way to express their emotions outwardly rather than to bottle them up. It could even be a reaction to what they believe to be personal failings or faults.

Teenagers and young adults are most at risk for self-injury as the practice usually begins during preteen and teen years. Certain life aspects put young people more at risk such as loneliness, conflicts with parents, peer pressure, friends who self-injure, abuse, neglect, mental health issues, and the use of alcohol or drugs.

Some signs of self-injury are more subtle than others and they can include:

  • Scars
  • Emotional and behavioral instability
  • Unpredictability and impulsivity
  • Presence of sharp objects
  • Long sleeves and pants in summer
  • Reporting of accidental injury
  • Bite marks, scratches, and cuts
  • Challenges with interpersonal relationships
  • Loneliness, anger, panic, rejection, self-hatred, confused sexuality, and guilt

The act of self-harm is always a sign that it’s time to find support. Self-injury is a coping mechanism and a result of much larger issues that are not being addressed in a healthy and productive manner. If you are self-harming, find someone you can trust with whom to speak. This could be anyone such as a teacher, professor, friend, parent, spiritual advisor, etc. You might feel scared, embarrassed, judged, ashamed, or guilty and this is perfectly natural. However, the moment you reach out to someone, the path to healing starts so that the rest of your life can begin.

Top Mental Health Challenges Facing College Students and High School (2)

(Video) Top 5 Mental Challenges College Students Face


What are the 5 common mental health challenges students face in college? ›

While there are certainly growing concerns over other mental health issues affecting college students today, this article covers the prevalent issues of depression, anxiety, suicide, eating disorders and addiction.

What are the top mental health issues in college students? ›

Furthermore, just over 1 in 5 students reported having been diagnosed with depression by a healthcare professional. Mood disturbances represent just some of the mental health conditions many college students have. Other common challenges include suicide and suicidal ideation, eating disorders, and substance misuse.

How does mental health issues affect college students? ›

Mental health problems can affect a student's energy level, concentration, dependability, mental ability, and optimism, hindering performance. Research suggests that depression is associated with lower grade point averages, and that co-occurring depression and anxiety can increase this association.

What causes mental health issues in high school students? ›

Physical, emotional and social changes, including exposure to poverty, abuse, or violence, can make adolescents vulnerable to mental health problems.

What are three 3 struggles commonly faced by college students? ›

Common Issues for College Students.
  • Social anxiety, general anxiety, test anxiety, or panic attacks.
  • Family expectations or problems.
  • Depression, lack of energy or motivation, hopelessness, being overwhelmed, low self-esteem, homesickness, loneliness.

What are 3 mental health challenges examples? ›

Types of mental health problems
  • Anger. Explains what anger is, and how to deal with it in a constructive and healthy way.
  • Anxiety and panic attacks. ...
  • Bipolar disorder. ...
  • Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) ...
  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD) ...
  • Depression. ...
  • Dissociation and dissociative disorders. ...
  • Eating problems.

What is the biggest problem facing college students today? ›

Often, after students begin their college experience they are faced with obstacles and challenges that can seem insurmountable.
Some of the most common areas where students face challenges include:
  • Academics.
  • Accessibility.
  • Finances.
  • Living environments.
  • Mental health and wellness.
Feb 14, 2022

What are the top 5 mental health issues? ›

Below are the five most common mental health disorders in America and their related symptoms:
  • Anxiety Disorders. The most common category of mental health disorders in America impacts approximately 40 million adults 18 and older. ...
  • Mood Disorders. ...
  • Psychotic Disorders. ...
  • Dementia. ...
  • Eating disorders.
Jan 30, 2020

What are the three common mental health issues among student? ›

This could imply that, university students are likely to experience depression, anxiety, frustration and troubles sleeping among other mental health issues due to stress associated with their academic lives [14, 23, 25].

What are the factors affecting mental health of students? ›

Stress, life events, past experiences and genet- ics all play a part in determining our mental health. Student life exposes in- dividuals to risk factors affecting mental health including financial worries, periods of transition, substance use, parental pressure, culture shock and disconnection from previous supports.

What pressures do college students face? ›

When college students begin college they experience pressure from multiple sources. For example, they experience pressure from their parents to succeed, from their professors, and pressure from themselves to do well in classes. This pressure could lead to high anxiety and possibly even poor performance in classes.

What are the top mental health issues for high school students? ›

The most common mental illnesses in adolescents are anxiety, mood, attention, and behavior disorders. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people aged 15–24 years.

How does high school negatively affect students mental health? ›

High school can be a breeding ground for individuality and socializing, but it can also contribute to mental health disorders, low self-esteem, and bullying. While high school students are holding on with one hand to their parents/guardians, they are simultaneously grasping for their independence.

What are a few issues that can cause a high school student to become depressed? ›

Many factors increase the risk of developing or triggering teen depression, including: Having issues that negatively impact self-esteem, such as obesity, peer problems, long-term bullying or academic problems. Having been the victim or witness of violence, such as physical or sexual abuse.

What are the 5 most stressors for college students? ›

What Causes Stress Among College Students?
  • Living away from home/living among strangers. ...
  • Academic demands and test anxiety. ...
  • Finances. ...
  • Post graduation plans. ...
  • Roommate negotiations and mediation. ...
  • Relationships (family and romantic)

What stresses college students out the most? ›

College students commonly experience stress because of increased responsibilities, a lack of good time management, changes in eating and sleeping habits, and not taking enough breaks for self-care. Transitioning to college can be a source of stress for most first-year students.

What are two common challenges that high school students face? ›

Trying to keep up with school, extracurriculars, family life, and a social life can be exhausting on its own. If you aren't getting the rest you need, it could be the cause of added stress, unhealthy eating habits, increased anxiety and depression, and more.

What's the biggest challenge people with mental illness face? ›

What's the biggest challenge people with mental illness face?
  • Making yourself a priority. ...
  • Reaching out. ...
  • Identifying moods and feelings. ...
  • Maintaining good routines. ...
  • Living up to expectations. ...
  • The unknown hurdles symptoms bring. ...
  • Planning and navigating the world.
Jul 6, 2018

What are the key challenges in mental health? ›

There are many types of mental health challenges. Here is a list of some: anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia, and bi-polar disorder.

What is the biggest mental health problem? ›

Depression. Impacting an estimated 300 million people, depression is the most-common mental disorder and generally affects women more often than men.

What is the biggest issue college students struggle with and why? ›

Problem: To afford the high price of college tuition, many students must get jobs. Juggling a job, 15 to 18 credits, relationships, and extracurricular activities is extremely difficult. Many students try to cram all of these activities into one day and do not get enough sleep.

What are college students most worried about? ›

Choosing the Right Major

This is one of the most common fears that every college student has, whether you're an incoming freshman or senior. It can be really scary to have to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life when you're still really young.

What is the #1 problem on college campuses? ›

Put another way, each constituency group in our study — first-year students, graduating students, faculty, administrators, parents, trustees, young alums — ranks mental health as the biggest problem on the college campus.

What are the 7 types of mental health? ›

These specific mental illnesses typically fall into the seven categories of mental disorders.
  • Anxiety Disorders. Many people experience some anxiety in their lives, but they find that it comes and goes. ...
  • Mood Disorders. ...
  • Psychotic Disorders. ...
  • Eating Disorders. ...
  • Personality Disorders. ...
  • Dementia. ...
  • Autism.
Apr 6, 2021

What are the top 10 mental health? ›

The top 10 mental health issues and illnesses include anxiety disorders, bipolar affective disorders, depression, dissociative disorders, eating disorders, paranoia, PTSD, psychosis, schizophrenia and OCD. One in four adult Americans will have a diagnosable mental disorder at any given time.

How does mental health affect daily life? ›

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

What are the two most common mental illnesses among college students? ›

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.
  • Self-Injury.
  • Sleeping Issues and Disorders.
Sep 21, 2021

How does mental health affect teens? ›

Mental health problems in youth often go hand-in-hand with other health and behavioral risks like increased risk of drug use, experiencing violence, and higher risk sexual behaviors that can lead to HIV, STDs, and unintended pregnancy.

What should be done about the mental health crisis among college students? ›

Supporting Mental Health in College Students On & Off Campus
  • Take care of health and well-being.
  • Effectively manage time.
  • Keep track of mental health concerns.
  • Surround yourself with good people (even if it's virtually)
  • Practice mindfulness.
  • Avoid drug and alcohol use.
  • Find ways to get involved.
  • Utilize mental health services.

What social factors affect mental health? ›

Social factors that can influence mental health include race, class, gender, religion, family and peer networks. Our age and stage, and the social roles we have at any time in our life all contribute to this.

How stress is affecting college students? ›

But research shows that feeling overwhelming school-related stress actually reduces your motivation to do the work, impacts your overall academic achievement, and increases your odds of dropping out. Stress can also cause health problems such as depression, poor sleep, substance abuse, and anxiety.

What are five signs and affects of stress for a college student? ›

Signs of Academic Stress and Burnout
  • Feeling worried and anxious all the time.
  • Fatigue and lack of energy.
  • Stomachaches and headaches.
  • Chest pain and shortness of breath.
  • Procrastinating or neglecting academics.
  • Feeling overwhelmed and hopeless.
  • Having negative thoughts.
  • Withdrawing from peers and social activities.
Mar 18, 2022

What are 2 signs and effects of stress for a college student? ›

Signs and Symptoms of Distress in Students
  • Social isolation, withdrawal, lethargy.
  • Inability to focus on a specific topic in a conversation or activity.
  • Disorganized thinking and speech, feelings that are inappropriate to the situation, lack of affect, or other evidence that student is “out of touch with reality”

How can mental health be improved in schools? ›

Consider the following actions:
  1. Educate staff, parents, and students on symptoms of and help for mental health problems.
  2. Promote social and emotional competency and build resilience.
  3. Help ensure a positive, safe school environment.
  4. Teach and reinforce positive behaviors and decision-making.
  5. Encourage helping others.
Apr 6, 2022

Why is mental health important for college students? ›

Mental health problems can impact the academic performance and success of a college student. Poor mental health contributes to lack of motivation and problems focusing which can lead to failing grades. Campus-wide mental health resources for students to seek support could be the key to their academic success.

How does depression affect high school students? ›

Depression and anxiety are triggers for poor performance, social isolation, absenteeism, cognitive impairment and can also result in students being bullied by their peers. This effects mental health as well as academic outcomes and can even lead to eventual loss of life if treatment is not received by the student.

What are the the four most common mental health issues that students suffer from? ›

ADHD, anxiety problems, behavior problems, and depression are the most commonly diagnosed mental disorders in children.

What are the main causes of depression in college students? ›

Here are some situations or risk factors that could trigger a bout of depression or anxiety for college students:
  • Relationship breakup.
  • Sexual assault.
  • Peer relationship difficulties.
  • Sexual identity adjustment difficulties.
  • Drug or alcohol use.
  • Family history of depression.
  • Stressful life events.
Jul 19, 2022

What causes anxiety in college students? ›

Stress and anxiety in college students can be caused by several factors. Some common causes of anxiety include transitions, academic pressure, peer pressure, new social settings, and unmet expectations. Knowing what is causing student anxiety makes identifying coping skills easier.

What are 5 mental health issues? ›

Many people also experience stigma, discrimination and violations of human rights.
  • Anxiety Disorders. ...
  • Depression. ...
  • Bipolar Disorder. ...
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) ...
  • Schizophrenia. ...
  • Eating Disorders. ...
  • Disruptive behaviour and dissocial disorders. ...
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders.
Jun 8, 2022

What are 5 factors leading to mental health concerns? ›

What causes mental health problems?
  • childhood abuse, trauma, or neglect.
  • social isolation or loneliness.
  • experiencing discrimination and stigma, including racism.
  • social disadvantage, poverty or debt.
  • bereavement (losing someone close to you)
  • severe or long-term stress.
  • having a long-term physical health condition.

What is the #1 stressor for college students? ›

Overall, 88 percent of college students reported their school life to be stressful. Education and medical majors reported the highest levels of stress, though, followed by psychology, arts, and the sciences. The biggest stressor for students was exams (89 percent). Financial issues weren't too far behind, though.

What is the biggest stress for college students? ›

College students commonly experience stress because of increased responsibilities, a lack of good time management, changes in eating and sleeping habits, and not taking enough breaks for self-care. Transitioning to college can be a source of stress for most first-year students.

What are 7 causes of student stress? ›

Some of the things students commonly cite as causes of stress include:
  • examinations.
  • deadlines.
  • returning to study.
  • pressure of combining paid work and study.
  • difficulty in organising work.
  • poor time management.
  • leaving assignments to the last minute.
  • out of control debts.

What are the top mental health issues in us? ›

The most common are anxiety disorders major depression and bipolar disorder. Below is more information on these disorders and how ACCESS can help.

What are the most mental health issues? ›

Mental illness, also called mental health disorders, refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors.

What are the 10 example of mental health? ›

The top 10 mental health issues and illnesses include anxiety disorders, bipolar affective disorders, depression, dissociative disorders, eating disorders, paranoia, PTSD, psychosis, schizophrenia and OCD. One in four adult Americans will have a diagnosable mental disorder at any given time.

What are the 6 key areas of mental health? ›

The Ryff Scale is based on six factors: autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relations with others, purpose in life, and self-acceptance. Higher total scores indicate higher psychological well-being.

What factors affect mental health of students? ›

Stress, life events, past experiences and genet- ics all play a part in determining our mental health. Student life exposes in- dividuals to risk factors affecting mental health including financial worries, periods of transition, substance use, parental pressure, culture shock and disconnection from previous supports.

What are the 7 risk factors for mental health? ›

Examples of risk factors include:
  • genetic predisposition.
  • homelessness and unemployment.
  • alcohol and other drug use.
  • discrimination and racial injustice.
  • family conflict or family disorganisation.
  • stressful life events.


1. Preventing Addiction and Mental Health Issues in College Students
(Doc Snipes)
2. Pandemic mental health challenges plague college students
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3. Your Mental Health in College | How to College | Crash Course
4. Mental Health in Schools: We’re Doing it Wrong | Maya Dawson | TEDxYouth@CherryCreek
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5. College Student Opens Up About Depression And Anxiety
6. College Students and Mental Health: Confronting an Emerging Crisis
(Harvard University)
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