• Jessica Colarossi

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    Photo of Jessica Colarossi. A white woman with long, straight brown hair and wearing a black and green paisley blouse smiles and poses in front of a dark grey background.

    Jessica Colarossi is a science writer for The Brink. She graduated with a BS in journalism from Emerson College in 2016, with focuses on environmental studies and publishing. While a student, she interned at ThinkProgress in Washington, D.C., where she wrote over 30 stories, most of them relating to climate change, coral reefs, and women’s health. Profile

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There are 16 comments on Mental Health of College Students Is Getting Worse

  1. Mental Health of College Students Is Getting Worse | The Brink | Boston University (bu.edu)

    “—-As a budding clinician of color, I think the tracking of these trends helps support efforts related to stigma reduction and [mental health] education that can be targeted toward certain communities,” says Jasmine Morigney

    You indeed hit upon a serious issue, we continue in colleges and universities to teach one another “there is” a stigma to mental illnesses. Nor are we the least bit shy about it. The harm we do is readily observable, we choose not to look.

    Historically rape/stigma took an entirely different path, whisper and innuendo. This version is an in your face college curricula related approach. And curiously it encounters no objection, not from students, not from administrators and not from professors themselves. Other versions have found disfavor, this one has not.

    Harold A Maio

    1. Why is (or should) mental health care becoming the job of universities or colleges? The amount of resources that need to be set up to provide such care jacks up the price of attending college and is not really the role of the academy. Professors are ill equipped to deal with student mental health problems and frankly should not have to because it is not their job.

      Would we, as a society, expect our workplaces to have in-house mental health practitioners on site for the benefit of workers’ mental health? No. We’d expect individuals with mental health issues to use their health insurance to obtain such care. Why do we expect something different from universities?

      And why are parents sending their children with mental health issues away from home and the health care that the student needs?

      Finally, why as a society are we creating so many unresilient people these days?

      1. I get the feeling I’m talking to a brick wall, but here goes.

        Nothing in the research indicates it’s “the job” of colleges and universities to provide mental health care. Colleges and universities are increasingly offering SUPPORT, which is done out of a sense of human compassion, something that is glaringly lacking in the expressed opinions offered in your response. For most students, college is much more than academic instruction for the purposes of getting a degree- it is an experience in engaging with others and developing a sense of connection with others in a productive and satisfying way. As a retired Educational Administrator, among the knowledge, skills, and dispositions required for a position, perhaps the most crucial in considering a hire was dispositions, as the roles my employees would play require collaboration. Colleges and universities do this in explicit and implicit ways. If there are mental health issues, it is not only human compassion to offer support at the college level, it will better prepare these students to enter the workforce, which at least in part is what college is about.

        Finally, regarding society creating unresilient people- these issues have always been out there but for decades were largely ignored. The result was a survival tactic which often included avoidance and denial which typically further resulted in a rather cold, unfeeling disposition, the likes of which I see in your response. As our society has evolved (thank heavens), we realize the wholeness in the human animal- not just a person who is required to output certain performances in work and family but as someone who has emotional needs which, when met, create better societies.

      2. The point you’re missing is that academic and university life is severely CONTRIBUTING TO and CREATING mental health problems in students. Rigorous demands and expectations without any support or consideration of mental health leads to depression, burn out, anxiety, imposter syndrome etc. This is the reality for most students. And though I think its’s great universities now have some resources for mental health support or referral, when it comes to actual changes in policy that would help to improve student quality of life or prioritize work-life balance, it is all lip service. No academic program actually cares about that. hey all care about taking your money and saying we are highly rated. Not to mention the impact of COVID-19. Living through a global pandemic has increased feelings of isolation, stress, and fear all the while most programs haven’t made any significant changes in workload or demand. I’m currently in grad school at BU and professors have openly said “hating your life is just part of grad school. you’re stressed and drowning and then it’s done.” Basically telling people to get over it. I know people who had deaths in their family and were pressured to return to classes and work over being with their family and attending a funeral. This the culture of academia. They love to say they care about supporting students, but when students are actually in crisis it’s all about soldiering through it.

        Also, I have my insurance through the university, therefore it is their obligation to help provide and refer me to health services. Many students are insured this way and in Massachusetts it’s specifically required all full-time students have some form of health insurance. So parents aren’t sending their kids with mental health issues away from care. Is society creating unresilient people, or do we as society prioritize work and productivity over mental wellness?

        1. I’m guessing your post as “Anonymous” is directed at the first “Anonymous” and are not one and the same person, as your post contains a great deal of compassion and makes points which are reasonable. I agree that University life does create stresses and anxiety, and in this age of social media, even more so. If we had social media when I went to college, I’m not sure I would have made it without some professional help. I might be exaggerating, as I totally loved college.

          I sincerely regret your experience with professors in Grad School at BU; hell, that’s almost a depraved indifference if someone commits suicide as a result. I would report these professors if I were in your shoes, but that may very well cause even more stresses.

          I appreciate your thoughts. Best of everything to you in your continued life journey.

      3. As someone who lives/thrives with depression, I find the comment by “Anonymous” very callous and without compassion. I did not ask for depression. It does run in my family and is largely caused by a hormone imbalance…NOT by my inability to handle stress. As a result, I am GRATEFUL that the company I now work with has been so patient and helpful in my process to learn how to deal with frustration without sounding like I am angry at my coworkers when I speak (yes, high functioning Asperger’s also). My mental health issues are genetically inherited. And I have a strong faithful family who supports me as well. I wish I had started asking for psychiatric help in college… But I have throughout my entire “adult life”, and I am a much stronger, more confident person. Why would we not want young people to learn IN COLLEGE that sometimes we need medical help to stay on the track to becoming better equipped to handle whatever life throws at you?! I’ve endured losing my roof to a tornado, living/working near the OKC Bombing, losing our home to a Hurricane… I am a strong and confident person…but it has taken every resource available to me to get there…I am not self-made! It really does take a village! And no, we are not wealthy people, especially since Katrina…but I did go back to full time work in order to assist my kids in getting the education they need to follow their passions and become mature, responsible adults. I get that it is a struggle to pay for a college education. But, it is WORTH THE WORK and I will keep advocating for EVERYONE to get the help they need through all of their life experiences.

        1. Hey Julia, I appreciate your comment, as well as your sharing of personal experiences and how you’ve dealt with them. I realize it’s been quite a bit since you made this comment but I’m writing a college paper right now and would love to quote you on it. I do have on question like I would like you to answer regarding your comment and personal experiences. If that’s okay with you, please contact me at elizabethorquizz@gmail.com

      4. well I would first like to say that your comment is very inconsiderate of other people I can tell you have not gone through a hard time yet. They are not asking professors to be mental health doctors but to simply bring it up so that it does not seem so foreign to students and I.E. people such as yourself. Some people don’t exactly know what a mental health decline may look like or how to treat it. Mental health can decline at any moment depending on the situation and other surrounding factors so it’s nice to talk about it to get the discussion going and let people see different types. So many people commit suicide because they don’t know or didn’t have help or a simple person to talk to which is why we need to have the conversations open. A work field does have HR which can be used in many different ways including for your mental health so your argument definitely does have some weak points.

      5. While I agree that “Professors are ill equipped to deal with student mental health problems and frankly should not have to because it is not their job,” professors (particularly early career) are often ill equipped to manage and/or mentor even their own graduate students. Part of the *responsibility* of professors that take on graduate students *should* be some career development via networking with the advisor colleagues, learning directly from experts (including their advisor, not just reading through manuscripts). All departments have different standards. Some departments do have written policies regarding advisor responsibilities while others allow advisors to be their own final judges. It’s a bit of a mess. But yes, advisors are not trained to deal with mental health issues, and it should not be a primary responsibility. Again, part of the problem is that the advisor-student environment itself can cause unnecessary anxiety. Some advisors are poor communicators, some are a bit passive-aggressive, some dole out projects not really in their field. Look at it this way, the mental health and personal issues of the professors also shouldn’t get dumped on students, and they often do.

        Academia doesn’t have a great record of transparency, a lot of issues get buried. It’s a weird place to be. Some of my friends have had great experiences, others dropped out. I was witness to those that did drop, and based on what I saw, they had every reason to. Bright students but the faculty they had to directly interact with were a bit on the cruel side. Everyone makes their own decision if they want to tolerate situations for 5 years in order to complete a PhD.

        Grad school is supposed to be part self-learning, part career training, part job transitioning, part mental shift from student to professional. Some department do a great jobs, others fail. Again, there’s little oversight and every advisor has a different style. A lot more accountability would help, on all sides.

  2. In the big picture, student’s mental health is suffering because, since Reagan, the USA is moving from a great middle class society to a hunger games oligarchy. All but the most privileged are conscious of the need to beat the competition to maintain the living standards of their parents. This transcends race and Covid.

  3. Colleges can put undue pressure on students, and some do break down under the pressures of classes, papers due, tests, homework, life outside class. It’s alot to juggle, and colleges need to consider if drinking from a firehose is the best way to enforce a love of learning and produce healthy graduates. My own son went to a peer uni, and was a great high school student, I had no doubt he could succeed. But the pressure of a top competitive college wore him down over the 4 years. He graduated but the experience destroyed him. Wish I had never sent him to be a full time student. Now he is on depression meds and unable to function. Really useful college degree.

  4. It is ironic that this study done at BU, where my daughter graduated 12 years ago. We send our children assuming as administrators take care of situations as best as they could. My daughter was bullied in a Catholic elementary school for the majority time she attended they didn’t know how to handle bulling back then…then after getting her BA from BU same year recession hit our country…no job she kept looking no luck….she continued her education and graduated w honors earned MPA by then after doing so many odd jobs stress level escalated while bill collectors are calling her to collect money that she didn’t have….then COVID hit and another obstacles in moving forward….my daughter isn’t the only adult there are so many as a country we all should be concerned address the issue urgently. This isn’t a single family crisis it is national emergency when our educated adults are suffering and unemployed when their parents are not getting the help they need instead of thinking about their own retirement or what we are going to be faced as we aging?

  5. i believe mental health is very important to the human body. Without sustaining good health, it could be life changing. Ive seen people who struggle with it and they go through it. Its rough.

  6. We should all find out first. What are the main factors that cause this mental health problem? Is it caused by too much consumption of information from social media? Or overloaded with home assignments from college? Or is it because of life’s injustices and discrimination? Is it because of the misuse of social media? Then we will know when and how we can work to reduce it step by step. I do believe that the only key to managing mental health comes first from parents’ education (homeschooling) and then from the school’s policies. Through appropriate and effective support from parents and schools, there are possibilities to reduce mental health problems. How? Parents should ask questions like, How do you feel about the teaching and learning? How do you get along with others? What are the biggest challenges you have right now? We believe you CAN solve it or them. What strategies and supports are required? School administrators and teachers should make sure to have better and more positive communication with their students.

    I normally tell my college students that life is a challenge, not a choice. Only you have the power to solve everything. The key is to think and act positively. Avoid negative activities, emotions, thoughts, judgments, and revenge. Focus on your goals. Your future depends on your attitude and beliefs. Even the best and most expensive colleges will not make miracles for you. However, they may do their best to help you, and only you are the one who has the power to shape and create yourself. ASK YOURSELF: What are the best things that empower my knowledge and skills to grow? How do I do it? When and where do I do it? Who can help me do it? I must do it now. By this time, in this place With this strategy, with this person A positive mindset has the power to change everything.

  7. Thank you so much for shining light on this. People often underestimate the importance of mental health, when in reality, it affects every single thing we do! College can be a very stressful experience. When you think about it, it’s usually our first encounter with the real world, the adult world, and being asked suddenly to decide what we want to do for the rest of our lives can be so intimidating. This is exactly why Universities need to work on good support systems. Finding those schools and highlighting them is quite literally our mission in Supportive Colleges. So, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for making this post. The more people know the importance of mental well-being, the more we can tackle it from the root!

  8. How does the recent research on college student mental health reveal differences in the prevalence and treatment of mental health issues based on race and ethnicity?

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