Mental Health and Higher Education

did you know

Bet you didn’t know that you may have mental health issues.

Well you could, that is 80% of higher education students are mentally ill (Smith, 2016).


Well have you been yelling or fighting with family and friends, having unexplained aches and pains, feeling helpless or hopeless, smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual, feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared and even thinking about harming yourself or others? (Smith, 2016).

MentalAccording to the psychologist, your mental wellbeing is questionable. Today’s young adults in higher education, increasingly need adequate mental health support and services. There is an increasing need for such services mainly because of the level of stress and emotional difficulties that come with studying at a post-secondary institution. Going to university is never easy. Therefore, this discussion will look at what is mental health, signs associated with the disorder, causes of mental disorder in higher education students, students’ academic performance and mental health services available at higher education institutions.

University students are one of the most sensitive strata of society, many of whom will become the future’s managers and planners, and the mental health of the society is contingent upon their mental health. One of the characteristics of a normal personality is having full mental health (Bostani, Nadri, & Nasab, 2014). It is said that one in four young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 have a diagnosable mental illness. (National Alliance on Mental Illness , 2015)

Wow!!!!!! Am I one in four?

wowSo, I decided to read deeper on the topic. This is what I found, mental health is a state of emotional, psychological, and social well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community (WHO, 2014). I exhaled! So, let’s find out if you the reader is. Depression, anxiety and stress are mental disorders that affect college students on a daily basis and majority of these students suffer from both depression and anxiety. A student who suffers from clinical depression will experience feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities, decreased energy, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions and difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping daily.

Can you imagine a student who also become easily irritable and has difficulty concentrating or having their minds go blank?


A survey conducted in 2009 suggested that 85% of college students reported experiencing stress daily (University of Florida, 2016).  Please note that the contributors to stress are academic demands, financial responsibilities and social pressures and expectations.


About one in 10 higher education students have experienced “suicidal thoughts”, according to a survey on mental health carried out at universities in the UK (Grove, 2013). In UK universities, more than a quarter of students (27%) report having a mental health problem of one type or another (Aronin & Smith, 2016). More than 25 percent of college students have been diagnosed or treated by a professional for a mental health condition within the past year. Freshmen accounted for more than one-third of undergraduate deaths with 40% due to suicide, and half of all deaths were due to falls from windows, balconies, and rooftops usually related to drug and alcohol abuse (Hernandez, 2006).

This is unbelievable, I could be walking past, sitting beside one of those persons. Why are higher education students suffering from this illness?


College students have difficulty adapting to college life, competing, and handling their new-found freedom with minimal adult supervision. As they transition from high school to college, anxiety increases as they leave behind the support of family, friends, and familiar surroundings which may place them at risk for academic, personal, and social difficulties. (Hernandez, 2006). They are also coping with academic pressure and others are dealing with numerous work and family responsibilities.

Mental illnesses may interfere with post-secondary student’s ability to function at a tertiary institution. It can affect students’ ability to attend classes, focus on academic material, and learn effectively, which may lead to a decline in academic performance, that may discourage students and add to their mental vulnerability. Mental disorders may hinder motivation and/or induce feelings of discouragement and hopelessness  (University of Florida, 2016), for example, depression is a significant predictor of lower GPA and higher probability of dropping out, even after controlling for symptoms of anxiety and eating disorders, prior academic performance, and other covariates (Eisenberg & Ezra Golberstein, 2009).

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Almost 73 percent of students living with a mental health condition experienced a mental health crisis on campus (National Alliance on Mental Illness , 2015). At higher education institution, the state of mental health is a growing crisis. Unfortunately, many college campuses are not equipped to offer adequate services to students with mental health issues. According to the National Mental Health Association (2010), consistent access to mental health intervention eludes many college students. Lack of financial resources, the difficulty of service delivery, stigmatization, and societal misconceptions of the mentally ill have been cited as reasons for the mental health services deficiency present in many college counseling centers (National Mental Health Association, 2010).  However, it is recorded that in general, post-secondary students are not seeking help, although in some colleges it is available. 40 percent of students with diagnosable mental health conditions did not seek help (National Alliance on Mental Illness , 2015). The number one reason for them not asking for help is the stigma that goes with it, although they are aware of the mental health services their university provides. Three-quarters of students were aware of counseling service provided by the institution.


The number of college students with mental disorders has increased and therefore calls into question not only their mental health, but its impact on higher education as it relates to policies that address incidences of violence, aggression, suicide, and disruptive behavior  are the higher education institution putting in place programmes or services to eliminate or lessen the occurrences of these mental health issues on their campuses (Hernandez, 2006). A programme that helps to prevent Suicide, training Peers to be able to identify the sign of mental illness and have the technique to defuse and help the student and distribute mental health information during, orientation, campus-wide events (carnival) are a good way to help those students suffering from this disorder.

From research done significant relations were found between educational performance and mental health and some of its components, such as depression and anxiety. Students with better mental health status have a better educational performance.

what do you think

Should these students attend higher education institutions?

If the institution does not take them in, will they have the cohort to hold classes.

Do all of us has a few mental health issues.?

Are lecturers immune?

Food for thought.


Are we all crazy!!!!!!!!!!



Aronin, S., & Smith, M. (2016, August 8). One in four students suffer from mental health problems. Retrieved from YouGov Website:

Bostani, M., Nadri, A., & Nasab, A. R. (2014, February 21). A Study of the Relation between Mental health and Academic Performance of Students of the Islamic Azad University Ahvaz Branch. Science Direct, 116, 163-165.

Eisenberg, D., & Ezra Golberstein, J. H. (2009, September). 11. B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 9(1).

Grove, J. (2013, May 20). Students’ mental health problems highlighted. Retrieved from The World University Ranking Website:

Hernandez, N. E. (2006, November 17-18). The Mental Health of College Students: Challenges, Obstacles, and Solutions . Retrieved from New York Univerity Faculty Resource Website:

National Alliance on Mental Illness . (2015, January). College Student Mental Health Statistics. Retrieved from Chadron State College Website:

Smith, J. (2016, March 2). Student mental health: a new model for universities . Retrieved from The Hugher Education Network: The Guardian:

University of Florida. (2016, September). Understanding Mental Health and Academics. Retrieved from University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center Website:

WHO. (2014, August 31). Mental health: a state of well-being. Retrieved from World Health Organization Website:

Mental Health and Higher Education