Rates of depression among college students jumped 135% from 2013 to 2021
The number of college students with depression or anxiety has more than doubled in the past eight years, a new study finds.
Boston University (BU) researchers found that the number of college students with depression increased by 135 percent between 2013 and 2021. This was accompanied by a 110 percent increase in anxiety cases over the same period.
While lockdowns, school closures and disruptions to everyday life due to the COVID-19 pandemic are partly to blame for the surges in recent years, experts warn the problems run much deeper. Nor does it happen that the years a person is in college also happens to be the years when a person is most likely to develop lifelong mental health problems.
Americans’ mental health has suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic, especially among school-aged children. Some experts fear that the recent rise in depression and anxiety among young people – coupled with a shortage of therapists – could lead to problems in the coming years.
The prevalence of both anxiety and depression among college students from 2013 to 2021 has more than doubled — and the numbers were rising for some time before the COVID-19 pandemic
‘College is an important development time; the age at which lifelong mental health problems develop also coincides directly with traditional school years — 75 percent of lifelong mental health problems begin at age 24,” said Dr Sarah Lipson, an assistant professor at the BU in a statement.
Researchers, who published their findings in the Diary of Affective Disordersused data from 350,000 students at 300 schools in the US using data collected by the Healthy Minds Network – a massive project that is collecting data on the mental health of young people and adolescents to use in these types of studies.
The survey had collected data on how a student felt from day to day, whether they felt they were experiencing positive personal development, and whether they made any effort to seek mental health care in some way.
Researchers found slight increases in general mental health problems every year, even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
This indicates that while Covid likely played a role in harming the mental health of many students, it alone cannot be blamed for what has become a disturbing trend.
NYC Health Commissioner declares ‘loneliness epidemic’ with more than half of city residents feeling ‘lonely’
As the pandemic eases, loneliness has become the new condition spreading through the Big Apple.
More than half of residents reported feeling “lonely” at times, according to a city-wide health survey, with more than two-thirds saying they’ve felt socially isolated in the past four weeks.
dr. Dave Chokshi, the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner, wrote a opinion piece for CNBC declare that this is an ‘epidemic of loneliness’.
Although the pandemic exacerbated the problem, he notes that loneliness has long been an unresolved problem for Americans.
“The truth is that loneliness has been hiding in plain sight in America for years,” Chokshi wrote.
“Rigorous scientific studies exist on the negative health effects of loneliness and social isolation, but public health measures have remained uneven.”
He warns that in America’s desire to return to normal in a post-pandemic world, the lonely must not be ignored or left behind.
It found that 60 percent of the students met the criteria for at least one mental health problem. That is almost 50 percent more than in 2013.
Both the rates of depression and anxiety doubled over the eight-year period.
They noted that the largest increase was among American Indian students, a group that is often overlooked and may have a smaller community on a given college campus.
‘Not nearly enough research has been done on this population,’ explains Lipson.
“I hope this data demonstrates the urgency of understanding some of the unique factors that determine the mental health of these students.
“American Indian/Alaskan Native students should be involved in the conversation so that universities can invest in resources that match their preferences.”
A reluctance was also observed in some groups to seek the care they needed.
Arab Americans, in particular, saw a 22 percent increase in the prevalence of mental health problems, but the number of students seeking care over the eight-year period actually fell by 18 percent.
Lipson encourages students to take advantage of the mental health services they can get on campus.
“It may not be perfect, but many four-year colleges offer the best resources people will ever have,” she said.
Some experts warn that the mental health of younger adults has reached crisis levels as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report published in 2020 found that one in four Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 had considered suicide during the early months of the pandemic.
Three quarters of the respondents also reported some form of behavior with a negative psychological health symptom.
While the numbers are likely lower now as many have returned to normal life in a world past the COVID-19 pandemic, some younger Americans will have lasting negative mental health problems.
Meanwhile, the nation also suffers from a huge shortage of therapistswith only about 500,000 licenses to practice for a population of over 300,000,000.