College Students


College can be an exciting time, it can also be overwhelming and stressful. Depression, anxiety, substance use, and eating disorders are common mental health issues on college campuses.

According to a 2011 American College Health Association Survey, almost 1/3 of students reported feeling so depressed within the last 12 months that it was difficult to function and almost half felt overwhelming anxiety.

Major depression increases the likelihood of substance abuse, impairs functioning at school, and influences an individual’s subsequent development in negative ways.  Depression can also co-occur with other disorders, including physical illnesses and other mental disorders, such as anxiety and eating disorders. It is important to have mental health services available on college campuses for students who need help.

According to the survey, the most commonly identified traumatic or difficult to handle issues were academic, financial, intimate relations, family, and sleep difficulties.  Of the approximately 20% of students who had been diagnosed or treated for a mental health/substance use condition in the past year, the most common conditions were depression, anxiety, panic attacks and ADHD.

Students reported feeling the following in the past year. 










Felt things were hopeless








Felt overwhelming anxiety








Felt so depressed that it was difficult to function








Felt overwhelming anger








Seriously considered suicide







The survey also found that 62% of students had used alcohol and 14% had used marijuana in the last 30 days.

Source:  2011 American College Health Association survey (


Active Minds:  Student Run Mental Health Organization on Campus

Active Minds aims to remove the stigma that surrounds mental health issues, and create a comfortable environment for an open conversation about mental health issues on campuses throughout North America.   You can search for a chapter on a local campus.

Active Minds is a campus based student organization working to change the conversation about mental health on college campuses.  The organization develops and supports chapters of a student-run mental health awareness, education, and advocacy group on campuses, and works to increase students’ awareness of mental health issues, provide information and resources regarding mental health and mental illness, encourage students to seek help as soon as it is needed, and serve as liaison between students and the mental health community.  

Transition Year Initiative

The American Psychiatric Foundation in partnership with the Jed Foundation is seeking to helping teens during the critical transition period from high school to college.

One in ten children suffers from a mental disorder severe enough to cause some level of impairment.

While the time of transition to college can be exciting in can also be challenging and it can be even more challenging for students coping the mental health issues.

To address this sensitive transition period, the American Psychiatric Foundation partnered with the Jed Foundation on a program to help ensure the smooth, safe, and healthy transition of teenagers from high school to college.  The Transition Year helps students and their families focus on emotional health before, during and after the college transition. At the center of the campaign is a free, customizable online resources center ( where parents and students will find: 

  • Articles and resources that help parents and students understand and prepare for the emotional transition into college life;
  • "My Transition Year" tools that let families create a personality profile for students and then complete a "Right Fit Worksheet" for each prospective school so that emotional health and wellness are considered during the college selection process;
  • Tools that help parents and students collect contact information for campus services related to wellness and emotional health;
  • Information and checklists that help parents and students differentiate between manageable emotional challenges related to the college transition and signs of a potentially larger problem;
  • Specific information and resources for families of students with a diagnosed mental health condition that help with issues like transferring care and treatment adherence to make it more likely these students will thrive at college.

Postvention: A Guide for Response to Suicide on College Campuses

college suicide cover

NAMI Report: 
College Students Speak

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

let's talk facts brochures

College Students and Alcohol Abuse