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A Decade Ago, 19% of Students Sought Treatment for Mental Health Problems. Now 34% Do

"Increasing prevalence of mental health problems and decreasing stigma help to explain this trend."

Mental healthSyda Productions / DreamstimeReliance on campus mental health services increased dramatically over the past 10 years. In 2007, just 19 percent of students sought treatment for mental health problems; a decade later, that figure has increased to 34 percent.

The rate of students receiving treatment for lifetime diagnoses also jumped, from 22 percent to 36 percent, according to a new study by the American Psychiatric Association.

The study is impressively large: The authors surveyed 155,000 students at nearly 200 colleges.

"This study provides the most comprehensive evidence to date regarding upward trends in mental health service utilization on U.S. campuses over the past 10 years," wrote the study's authors. "Increasing prevalence of mental health problems and decreasing stigma help to explain this trend."

The fact that more students are seeking treatment does not necessarily mean things are getting worse. More people talking openly about their mental health could mean more people are leading better lives. It also doesn't have to mean more people need treatment now than than did a decade ago. As I've frequently observed regarding hate crime statistics, more comprehensive reporting should not be confused with an increase in the underlying thing being counted.

Of course, it could also be the case that young people really are more stressed out, anxious, and depressed than they used to be. Depression and suicide rates are on the rise, generally speaking, and not just for young people. Student loan debt is significantly larger than it was a decade ago, and thus the stakes for doing well in college are higher. Getting a degree is no longer an automatic ticket to a well-paying job, campuses are political and ideological powder kegs, social media has all of us on display all the time. These are all good reasons for students to be stressed.

My sense is that mental health issues have become dramatically destigmatized on college campuses. I have even seen campus personnel list their traumas and triggers in their online biographies (underneath their preferred pronouns). That's broadly a good thing, because many people need help, and will seek if they feel it's normal to both have problems and get help for them.

But colleges might also be inadvertently encouraging students to view their more mundane struggles or frustrations as symptomatic of underlying mental health issues. I'm thinking of all the student-activists who claim to be suffering from PTSD, possibly because it makes them seem more dedicated to their cause. Recall that trigger warnings could actually make some people more anxious and less resilient to trauma. I think it's reasonable to be concerned that 1) young people are very stressed out, often legitimately, and 2) campuses occasionally fail to emotionally equip them to handle life beyond college. Both things can be true.

Photo Credit: Syda Productions / Dreamstime

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  • loveconstitution1789||

    Pseudo science runs the World.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    That and a bunch of young people are pussies.

  • SIV||

    Like able-bodied people taking welfare, annoying whiny people seeking "mental health care" SHOULD be stigmatized.

  • John||

    You get more of what you reward. Having a mental issue is now just a way to get attention and be excused from responsibility. So, of course more people claim to have them. Worse, since mental health is by its nature a "state of mind", people who convince themselves they have a problem in fact now do because of that. We are creating a whole generation of neurotic victims. It is not only a really bad idea for society, it is actually really cruel to the people we are doing it to.

  • ||

    ^ This.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    That and people who have real mental issues get lost in the sheer volume of fake head cases.

    Takes mental health money from those who really need it. Mental health facilities only have so many beds available.

    And Tony is always in and out of those places. *drops mic

  • John||

    Nah, Tony is just a nuerotic idiot. It is shreek who is legitimately derranged and is always a lost commitment hearing away from disapearing for a while.

  • Vernon Depner||

    And Tony is always in and out of those places.

    You mean for his Depo-Provera?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    More like his Derp-Proverbs.

  • TangoDelta||

    Are you sure? It's just that given this:

    Of course, it could also be the case that young people really are more stressed out, anxious, and depressed than they used to be.

    It seems to me that the educators are instilling fear, stress, and all sorts of mental anxiety with their social justice worrying. Of course that does set up a interesting feedback loop where everyone will soon need to be under the care of a tender and loving government appointed nanny.

  • Dillinger||

    pussies.

    >>> I have even seen campus personnel list their traumas and triggers in their online biographies (underneath their preferred pronouns).

    and you didn't call them pussies?

  • ||

    Who, in the '90s, could have seen this coming?

  • Dillinger||

    The guys who did PCU?

  • ||

    Fair enough.

  • HeteroPatriarch||

    When was "The Meaning of Life" made? The 70's?

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    I learned in college that 1 in 4 female students will be raped. It's no surprise young people are stressed out with those terrifying numbers.

    #EndRapeCulture
    #TeachMenNotToRape

  • TangoDelta||

    Yet more and more females go to college knowing that those "odds". What kind of parent does that to their kids? Kind of like that Ka Van Augh accuser who repeatedly went to parties that were known to her to be rape parties.

    If it smells like the Salton Sea it's probably bad sushi.

  • Vernon Depner||

    You fail to mention the free drugs provided by student insurance. That was a major motivation for students going to the Health Center for "mental health" problems even back in the seventies when I was in college. Now there are more and better drugs being handed out.

  • John||

    You think so? Are the mood drugs like Zanex and the rest really that fun? I honestly don't know having never taken them.

  • HeteroPatriarch||

    Xanax is the best sleep aid I've ever had. But fun? No.

  • Lester224||

    SSRIs do not give you a high. Anti-psychotics tend to make you put on weight and have unpleasant side-effects. Too much anti-anxiety medication tends to put you to sleep. No, they aren't taking them for fun. (I have friends and relatives who take this stuff- so do most people nowadays).

    One might take stimulants like Adderall for fun. But those are mostly taken by students who want to stay up late to study. Those can be addictive and dangerous.

  • ||

    Wait until Ecstasy is approved for therapeutic use. I predict a wave of anxiety disorders.

  • John||

    If they ever approve MDMA for PTSD, I am suddenly going to find some recovered memories of all of these horrible things I saw in Iraq.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The VA is supposedly starting studies using MDMA.

  • John||

    i hear it is a mircle drug. I only joke about claiming PTSD. I really hope it works.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I hope so too.

    Evidently it helps vet's brains re-wire itself to bypass damaged areas.

  • ||

    I really hope it works.

    It does - there was a major sector of mental health professionals who were outraged when it was made Schedule I, as it has clear and provable therapeutic uses. As with LSD, outlawing it was 100% political and 0% medical - LSD also had demonstrated uses in curing alcoholism and depression, but that was ignored.

  • Dillinger||

    you could just buy some.

  • John||

    I don't trust drug dealers. I am not taking anything that came out of the basement of some toothless retard with a few chemistry books. No Mexican shoe scrapings for me.

  • Dillinger||

    >>>No Mexican shoe scrapings for me

    funny. chance you take I guess I never thought about it ...

  • John||

    Pot or even cocain is one thing. But MDMA is a pretty complex substance. Clearly, people know how to make it but it is still a risk I wouldn't want to take.

  • Dillinger||

    >>>a risk I wouldn't want to take

    your opinion on the other side of having taken the risk would be interesting ha

  • ||

    I never took it mostly because it costs about 100 times as much as LSD. It's also in the methamphetamine family and is only loosely related to true psychedelics, and I don't respond well to stimulants. I get ugly.

  • HeteroPatriarch||

    The only times I ever had MDMA we got it from a kid at CO school of mines who made it himself. According to him, the stuff used to cut cocaine is much worse than anything you're likely to find in X.

  • Vernon Depner||

    And psilocybin for stress disorders and depression.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    A decade ago, we were jacking up children with Ritalin, SSRIs and every other drug available for ADHD, real or imagined. Those kids are now in college.

  • John||

    The problem with giving kids drugs like that is that it allows them never to learn how to live in their own heads. The reason why people drink or do drugs, if it isn't to kill physical pain, is because being high allows you to get out of your own head. It is really hard for some people to be sober and just face themselves and their thoughts as they actually are. And if you spent your whole life on mood enhancing drugs, which is all Ritalin and SSRIs are no matter what people claim, you would never learn how to do that and how to be at peace with yourself without chemical assistence. And that is not a good way to be.

  • Vernon Depner||

    Kids today, especially boys, have also been taught to fear what is in their heads. A single miscue in an intimate encounter; recklessly blurting out a violent fantasy, even in jest; expressing a forbidden idea in an essay or work of art; or sharing a disturbing dream, can leave a young person with a record that destroys their prospects for the future. The fear of ruining their lives with Wrongthink is real for them.

  • TangoDelta||

    Very true, if Dali's The Persistence of Memory or Van Gogh's Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette and many others were painted today by unknown artists it's very likely they would be involuntarily institutionalized pretty quickly.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The government has some good numbers on those populations too.

    Many kids who were messed up by those drugs apply for Social Security disability.

  • lap83||

    "The fact that more students are seeking treatment does not necessarily mean things are getting worse. More people talking openly about their mental health could mean more people are leading better lives."

    Yeah, what could possibly go wrong with a culture that encourages people to take pride in their craziness and casually insert it into everyday conversation?

  • Mr. JD||

    When you subsidize something, you get more of it.

    Leftists will simply claim that this is good news; previously untreated illnesses are now being addressed.

  • ||

    Imagine the horror that came before!

  • Vernon Depner||

    When a condition that is not a threat to physical health is so widespread and common that it has to be considered a normal variation rather than pathological, then trying to change it with medicine has to be considered transhumanism rather than treatment.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    This is fodder for everyone.

    Snowflakes! Everything is pathologized!

    Awareness has been raised, we're finally reaching those in need!

    *clears throat*

    School shootings on the rise!

  • ||

    School shootings on the rise!

    I was really struck in the coverage about the Florida shooting that a journo went to one of the students to get a reaction shot on "how shocked were you when the shooting began?" and the student's response was "not at all. We talk about this so much and do so many drills, I had been expecting it to happen any time."

    This is what educators are doing to our children.

  • Lester224||

    You're blaming the educators for this? What about the shooters? Would it be better if the kids were more shocked?

  • Social Justice is neither||

    Who would have thought that prioritizing self esteem over proficiency would ever brought this about. This is what happens when the people who never lost a game or got a B because it might hurt their self image are finally asked to function in the semi-real world. Wait until they get to the workplace and they'll be Falling Down all over.

  • Exsqueezeyou||

    What the study fails to mention is that the near entirety of the dramatic rise started in 2016 and when TDS is removed as a mental health problem the rate actually drops to 17% which is attributed to the improved economy and the vastly improved mental health of racists.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    This guy gets it.

  • No Longer Amused||

    The answer is obvious; we have more "precious snowflakes" now than we did ten years ago.

  • cc2||

    I think part of it is the focus on "identity". 50 years ago, there were the hippies, the frat boys, the nerds, and the regular people. The categories were broad and no one looked too closely at you. There were no expectations. Now, it is a high stakes game of self-definition. Check out college student web pages: they identify their sexuality, their politics, their neuroses and phobias, all in an attempt to create a unique identity. If you like normal stuff (you run, like coffee, watch cop shows and Sci-fi, eat pizza) that is nowheresville, not a "real" identity. Only weird stuff is acceptable, and you have to be shouting it. You can't just dislike Trump--you have to have a tantrum about him. The battle to like stuff before it is cool is a battle few can really win.
    I remember in college hanging out with relentlessly normal people, playing softball, going to swim at the river, going to concerts. One (1) girl was all emo and talked about being depressed. Just 1 of the hundreds I knew. If you reward a behavior you get more of it. How about we reward being self-reliant and hard working?

  • Longtobefree||

    Maybe, just maybe, this is to set up a protection racket where no one will ever ask them to actually accomplish anything because they have a paper trail of crazy. Why pay off student debt or try to actually function in a job where results are not only expected, but demanded? A psycho disability is good money if you have been convinced that being crazy it not a bad thing.

  • Jerry B.||

    You have to want to hear dog whistles to hear dog whistles. If you wan it hard enough, you hear dog whistles when there aren't any.

  • Lester224||

    The rate of suicide has increased significantly in the U.S. since 1999. In North Dakota, the rate jumped more than 57 percent. In the most recent period studied (2014 to 2016), the rate was highest in Montana, at 29.2 per 100,000 residents, compared with the national average of 13.4 per 100,000.

    All those snowflakes in Montana.

  • Integrity Testing||

    Yes, the reason why people drink or do drugs, if it isn't to kill physical pain, is because being high allows you to get out of your own head.

  • Nerþuz||

    It's not surprising considering what pussies young people are today. These abortions have a meltdown if they don't get the right flavor in their latte.

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