Demand For Mental Health Resources Not Being Met On College Campuses

By Beth Leipholtz 10/11/18

One mental health professional estimates that almost half of colleges students who need services are not receiving them.

College students walking on campus

College is a stressful transition for many—that's apparent from recent mental health numbers. 

According to Deseret News, greater numbers of college students are facing mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety, and as such, the number of students seeking help on campuses has increased.   

Ben Locke, executive director of the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Pennsylvania State University, tells Deseret News that the demand for mental health services is growing rapidly—about five to six times faster than enrollment. He says that since enrollment numbers help fund such services, it’s difficult for some colleges to fulfill the demand.

The Center for Collegiate Mental Health has found that of the students seeking help, 70% have anxiety. Of those, 25% consider anxiety their main concern. These numbers, according to Deseret News, are based on 2017 data covering 160,014 students at 160 colleges.

Additionally, a 2017 American College Health Association Survey of 63,000 students discovered that 2 in 5 students would say they are so depressed that they “struggled to function,” and 3 in 5 had felt “overwhelming anxiety” in the previous year.

According to experts, college students may be particularly prone to such mental health struggles because of the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

And it isn’t just the volume of students that’s an issue. According to Daniel Eisenberg, professor of health management and policy at the University of Michigan and director of the Healthy Minds Network, students’ symptoms are growing more severe.

According to Eisenberg's data, almost half of students who need services are not receiving them.

Randy P. Auerbach of Columbia University and lead author of a study about mental health in college students worldwide, says the problem needs to be addressed. 

“We are seeing debilitating levels of anxiety that are more and more common—where, by the time they get to college, students are so worried about different aspects of their lives it can be a real problem. Students struggling with very severe symptoms who don’t get treatment are likely to have consequences.”

On some campuses, students are taking the matter into their own hands. At the University of Michigan, student body president Bobby Dishell and some of his peers had begun a program called the Wolverine Support Network. The idea was that students could form small groups and offer one another support. 

Sam Orley, whose brother George took his own life when he was a student at the university, served as the executive director of the program. Orley said that rather than being a program for mental illness, the Wolverine Support Network is a “holistic mental health and well-being effort.”

In some cases, the struggles college students are facing may be downplayed, according to Kelly Davis, director of peer advocacy, supports and services for Mental Health America.

“There’s a lot of condescension—dismissal of how hard that period of life is,” Davis told Deseret News

Last spring, Deseret News sat down with students to discuss their fears and worries. Topping the list were fear of missing out, fear of failure and job competition.

“The bar is just so high for everything,” one student said in conclusion.  

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.