Before the COVID-19 pandemic, one in five college students globally experienced at least one mental health disorder. The pandemic has exacerbated mental health struggles.
The National Center for Health Statistics surveyed people between the months of April and July, screening for symptoms of Anxiety and Depression. They categorized the results by age group. While folks of all ages attend college, those in the typical college age range showed the highest rates of symptoms—at times reaching 49%.
While the 2019 rates weren’t broken down by age group, that year rates of Depression and Anxiety for adults over 18 were 6.6% and 8.2%, respectively.
When the pandemic first hit in the spring, many colleges and universities switched to online classes. That came with its own set of challenges, as students adjusted to a new way of learning and isolation from their friends. Now, as guidelines for the fall keep changing, they face a new set of challenges.
As of this writing, 57% of schools plan to hold at least some in-person classes. But many still have a backup plan to potentially return online. The uncertainty and constant change can be confusing, especially for college-age people who are often already in a stage of upheaval.
College students expect their college experience to help them make connections and get in-person support. Students who aren’t able to live on campus may mourn the college experience they envisioned. Others’ Anxiety may be exacerbated by having to attend in-person classes.
Though the changed COVID-19 college experience might also mean less parties, drinking and drug use is often a big part of college life. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that before the pandemic, 1 in 3 students binge drank. Now “blowing off steam” to numb the Anxiety and weirdness of it all might become another excuse to drink or use in excess.
Hopefully, as most colleges are open in some capacity, they will also continue to offer counseling and mental health support. Students without an outlet may use substances in its place.
If you are a college student struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is hope. TruHealing Centers is open throughout the crisis, with hospital-grade sanitization of our facilities and telehealth options. At our centers across the country, we will help you build healthier tools for coping with stress so that you can thrive in recovery. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.