Depression Hits College Campuses Hard
By Kathryn Knight
December 22, 2010
Recently, the American College Health Association (ACHA) published the results of their National College Health Assessment. The report revealed that 91.7% of students felt their state of health was good, very good or excellent. However, when it came time to talk about depression, the numbers were quite startling.
Approximately 30.7% of the students polled said that at one point in the past 12 months they “felt so depressed it was difficult to function.” Along with that, in the past 12 months, 5.3% intentionally hurt themselves, 6.2% seriously considered suicide and 1.3% attempted suicide.
Also this year, the American College Counseling Association (ACCA) released their National Survey of Counseling Center Directors, which reported 133 student suicides on college campuses in the past year. The survey says, “13% of these were current or former center clients…84% of the students were depressed, 56% had relationship problems, 20% had academic problems, 18% had financial concerns, and 12% had health issues.
The survey also shed light on how counseling directors feel about their job — 67.3% of the directors surveyed felt that their job was more demanding than it was five years ago. This shift is due to “time pressures (75%), increased administrative demands (74%), budget issues (65%), managing the increased pressures on center due to the increasing complexity of student problems (61%), and growing expectations on campus for counseling centers to reduce the possibility of tragic campus events (46%).
Unfortunately, students don’t necessarily escape depression once they graduate. Cryn Johannsen, Executive Director of All Education Matters, Inc. (AEM) and a Huffington Post blogger, has been delving into research on the correlation between student debt and suicide. Her blog serves as a “help center” now for students who think they have no way out of their “Everest-sized mountains of student loan debt,” in Cryn’s words.
If you are a college student feeling depressed, there are a few things you need to know. First, you are not alone. As the ACHA survey indicates, 30% of your peers are feeling the same way. Second, you shouldn’t feel ashamed to get help. Part of your student fees include counseling services at your campus health center – take advantage of this service you’re paying for and get help. Whether it’s depression over harsh professors or a lacking love life, talk to your campus counselor. Third, do little things to help yourself:
- Get at least eight hours of sleep each night.
- Try working out at the gym at least three times a week – endorphins can do wonders for your self-esteem!
- Eat well – a diet full of your body’s necessary nutrients can help to ease anxiety.
- Find one thing to do each week or each day that gets your mind off of school/relationships/work — go sledding, take a drive, pick apples at an orchard, commit to an hour of leisure reading, etc.
If you’ve graduated, there are plenty of services you can utilize as well:
- Find a support group – plenty exist in local communities and there are even online outlets like Cryn Johannsen’s blog.
- Talk to someone – it can be a counselor or therapist or someone with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.