In 2018, Time reported that the number of college students seeking treatment for mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety had reached a record high. Other statistics show that about 33% of full-time college students engage in binge drinking at least once a month. Also, another 20% have used an illicit drug. These statistics make many wonder whether academic pressure on college students is causing an epidemic of drug abuse.
Mental Health Statistics Among College Students
More college students than ever are visiting their educational institution’s mental health department for treatment, according to Time. Those who do seek help may be more likely to have hurt themselves or attempted suicide. In fact, a survey from 2017 found that 40% of college students had been so depressed that they found it hard to go about their daily routines, and more than 60 percent said that they felt crushing anxiety.
Although many colleges and universities are experimenting with different methods for identifying and treating mental illness, the problem may lie with the academic pressure on college students.
Academic Pressure On College Students May Stem From Uncertainty
Students who grow up in a traditional school system are familiar with following certain standards. In elementary, middle and high school, you receive grades on your work that are objective and fair. You learn facts, and you regurgitate them on tests and papers. There is plenty of structure that gives you a framework in which to understand your world.
When you go to college, you’re often expected to process information in a different way than you’re familiar with. More emphasis is on your interpretation of the information that you learn. You might find it hard to operate in a fluid context that doesn’t emphasize right or wrong.
Also, college students are more independent. They don’t have anyone monitoring them to ensure that they complete their work. This creates a need for students to develop their own methods for organizing their lives.
If they have trouble setting this foundation, everything that happens to them can feel ambiguous and unclear. This lack of structure can make them feel anxious and out of control.
Our Competitive Culture May Impact Mental Health
We live in a culture that places importance on certain elements that are related to success, including wealth, academic achievement and job performance. Some educational programs are only available to students who obtain the highest scores in their fields. This may place an unhealthy demand on competition instead of individual accomplishments, which puts unsustainable academic pressure on college students.
Moreover, mental health issues can negatively impact an individual’s academic performance, creating a downward spiral that’s difficult to break. The non-productive behaviors that many college students develop in an attempt to cope with stress can cause further detriment to their mental health.
Many young people are proud of the lack of sleep and excessive partying patterns that they take on when they go to college. They may develop an unhealthy lifestyle that makes it even harder to manage the academic pressure on college students.
In addition to depression and anxiety, many students meet criteria for alcohol dependence, eating disorders and drug abuse.
About Red Oak Recovery®
At Red Oak Recovery®, a mental health and wellness center in NC, we understand the extenuating pressures that young people must deal with. We also know that it can be challenging to determine whether psychosocial pressures contribute to drug abuse or addiction makes it harder to manage academic stress.
Therefore, we offer a wide range of treatments that meet our clients where they are. We create a customized plan for everyone who works with us. No one has the same story. Therefore, we don’t offer a one-size-fits-all treatment program for addiction and mental health.