In the eyes of many people, the days spent in college are decidedly iconic; from carefree parties and trips to enlightening conversations and the opening up of new doors of experience and knowledge, the college years are often considered some of the best that modern life has to offer. Yet for a growing number of American college students, the period is marked with extreme stress, depression, and emotional difficulty. While some aspects of college life may contribute to negative emotions and experiences, recent accelerations of competition within schools and the extremely difficult job market, along with general financial woes, may be increasing the number of students whose occasional upsets are becoming fully-fledged and debilitating issues.
A poll conducted by The Associated Press, in collaboration with MTV, was recently administered to students at 40 U.S. colleges, asking participants to describe their thoughts and feelings on a range of topics and to answer basic batteries of questions regarding their mental and emotional well-being. The results are significant; 42% of participants reported feeling depressed, hopeless, or “down” several times within the two weeks prior to responding, and 13% were shown to be at risk for some form of clinical depression. An alarming 11% of students reported having thoughts about self-harming or the idea that they’d be “better off dead.”
Though the prevalence of depression and related symptoms among college students is cause for concern, the apparent stigmas and disinterest associated with seeking professional help is truly discouraging. The majority of respondents reported that the weren’t actively engaged in any sort of therapy, nor had they any intention of talking with a mental health professional about their problems. As the economic downturn continues and young people face increasing pressure to perform, psychotherapy and the student mind will have to work harder to meet and achieve positive results.
© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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