Students coping with greater levels of psychological stressFive times as many high school and college students are dealing with mental health issues than people of the same age studied during the Great Depression
By: Meghan Wons, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Five times as many high school and college students are dealing with mental health issues than people of the same age studied during the Great Depression, according to a national psychology study published this week.
The numbers paint a bleak picture of youth mental health in America. For example, 31 percent of students in 2007 showed symptoms of anxiety, compared to just 5 percent of students in 1938.
Dennis Christoffersen. the clinical director of crisis services with UW-Madison’s Health Services, says the outcomes of the study mirror what he’s seeing on campus and hearing about from other college counseling centers across the country: more students coming in with seemingly more severe problems with depression, suicidal thoughts, and increased reporting of sexual abuse.
Some mental health professionals question whether the study paints an accurate portrait. Christoffersen says better awareness and acceptance about mental health issues may have affected the numbers, but the study reflects a real issue. He says stress may be one of the biggest factors affecting the mental health of today’s young adults. He says news about issues like global warming, terrorism, or economic problems are pervasive, and the general sense of stress and uncertainty tends to escalate the normal and expected problems young people face.
Christoffersen adds that the American College Health Association estimates that students seeking help represent only a fraction of those who have depression and other mental health issues.
The study is based on responses from nearly 80,000 high school and college students who took the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI).