College Student Mental Health and Wellness

Over 60% of college students met the criteria for at least one mental health problem during the 2020-21 school year according to an article in the APA. This high strain on students has a knock on effect to general well being, retention and the ability for students to complete. As the Lumina Foundation-Gallup State of Higher Education 2022 study found, “emotional stress was a major reason currently enrolled students considered stopping out in the fall of 2022.” 

King’s College London published a study highlighting the importance of mental wellness alongside academic success, citing “a growing recognition that the psychological, inner lives of students matter as much to their studies as does their intelligence, if they are to succeed in their studies and later into life.”

While much research has focused on the pandemic’s impact on college students and mental health, there are emerging threads of study into the impact of social media on student well-being, including The US Surgeon General’s Advisory on Social Media and Youth Mental Health, stating “we cannot conclude social media is sufficiently safe for children and adolescents and outlines immediate steps we can take to mitigate the risk of harm to children and adolescents.”

The crisis also extends to college staff and educators, who are on the front lines. According to a report from TimelyCare, “More than half considered leaving their job because of burnout, increased workload and stress.” 

In response, institutions are enhancing support for both students and staff. For instance, the University of Virginia has nearly tripled its counseling staff size, Washington University in St. Louis offers peer counseling at Uncle Joe’s Peer Counseling and Resource Center, and Florida Gulf Coast University runs a support group named “Bold Eagles.”

Institutions that integrate educational experiences with student well being are distinguishing themselves. For example, Yale has adapted its popular “Psychology of Happiness” course for teens, as the Washington Post reported.

Continued investment in comprehensive well-being support will be key for colleges aiming to effectively support their communities. Their commitments will encourage students to retain through graduation and allow their staff to thrive.