Mental health conditions are a collection of disorders characterized by symptoms like sadness, extreme mood swings, disturbances in thought or perception, overwhelming obsessions or fears, or high levels of anxiety. Mental health conditions are disorders of the mind, which can make it difficult to cope with the ordinary demands of life. No one knows exactly what causes mental illness. There are multiple factors that can influence mental illness, including: genetic factors, biochemical factors and/or environmental factors.
With the pressures you may face in college, it is crucial to take your mental health seriously. Stress, overwork, fatigue, and a lack of ability to cope with these issues, can lead to the onset of mental health issues or exacerbate existing conditions.
It is important to remember that mental health conditions are treatable. The college years are a time when many mental and emotional disorders first appear, and it is important to seek out resources if you are concerned.
Most Common Mental Health Issues Facing College Students
Depression: A 2012 study reported that 44% of college students have one or more symptoms of depression. Depression can be difficult to spot – it may be expressed through the abuse of drugs and alcohol or hostile, aggressive and risk-taking behaviors. Many factors can contribute, other emotional disorders, stress, poor nutrition, physical illness, personal loss, etc. Not everyone experiences depression the same way. Symptoms can include behavioral, emotional and/or physical changes.
Anxiety: Most college students experience some anxiety. Everyone feels anxious in certain situations, but an anxiety disorder can make it difficult for a person to function. A key indicator of an anxiety disorder is nervousness that is impossible to control or out of proportion to what is going on. There are different types of anxiety disorders, but all involve in some way, excessive worry, fear, avoidance and irritability.
Bipolar Disorder: Often characterized by extreme bouts of depression followed by periods of manic activity. It can be easy to pass off symptoms of bipolar disorder as mood swings. It can be common that a person who is manic thinks nothing is wrong with their behavior, even though it may be distressing to others. People can experience a variety of mood patterns; it is also possible to remain symptom-free for extended periods of time.
Eating Disorders: Approximately 20% of women and 10% of men in college struggle with an eating disorder. Many factors can contribute; from pressure of losing weight or “looking good” to the stress of a busy social, academic and work schedule interfering with proper eating. Eating disorders are serious and can lead to devastating consequences. Successful treatment includes addressing both emotional and physical symptoms.
Addiction: Addiction can be devastating for college students who may turn to drugs or alcohol to deal with stress or other mental health conditions. Even the “experimental” use of alcohol and drugs can have a negative impact. For many who struggle with addition, often the most difficult thing is admitting a problem.
ADHD: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is characterized by poor attention and distractibility and/or hyperactive and impulsive behaviors. It is one of the most common mental disorders that develop in children. Symptoms can continue into adulthood. Adults with ADHD may have difficulty with time management, organizing, goal setting and employment.
Self-Harm: Some estimate that up to 15% of college students have engaged in some form of self-harming behavior. People who harm themselves tend to so in private and on areas of the body that may not be visible to others. Self-harm is serious and should be monitored by a trained mental health specialist.
Marquette University Counseling Center provides individual short-term counseling to full-time MIAD students free of charge. Therapists provide both one-on-one counseling and group counseling. All services are confidential. The center is open from 8:00am – 4:30pm and is located at 1324 W. Wisconsin Ave. Room 204 of Holtusen Hall. Phone: 414-288-7172. marquette.edu/counseling
On campus students can speak with:
Jennifer Crandall, Associate Dean of Students, RL95
Sara Thor, Student Accessibility Coordinator, RL100B
Marianne Honrath, Director of Residential Living and Student Engagement, RL45H
Tony Nowak, Dean of Students, RL45C
Local to Milwaukee:
Milwaukee County Crisis Line: 24 hrs/day, 7 days a week. (414) 257-7222
General information on Local Mental Health Services: IMPACT 2-1-1. In Milwaukee, Waukesha, Kenosha, Racine, Ozaukee, Washington, Dodge, Jefferson and Walworth counties dial 2-1-1.
Center for Suicide Awareness: For emotional support and resources to help with any struggle before it becomes a crisis, text HOPELINE to 741741. This is a free service provided by the Center for Suicide Awareness.