Why University Can Hurt Your Child’s Mental Health

While attending a university can be an exciting time for young people, there’s mounting evidence that says your child’s generation is facing higher levels of stress on campus than any other generation of students has had to in history.

Here are three ways college could be harming your child’s mental health:   

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While a moderate level of anxiety is present in the lives of most people, the pressures, and confusion of university life can lead to a heightening of stress disorders that can cause real interference in a student’s daily life. Persistent feelings of fear and worry can not only drag down a student’s ability to function but can also lead to a severe decline in happiness and sense of well-being that can then lead your child into depression.

Such anxiety disorders include:

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder – When irrational fears, obsessions, and fears cause you to perform repetitive or compulsive behaviors.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder – Persistent anxiety that is severe enough to interfere with your daily activities.
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder – A terrifying or shocking event that’s witnessed by someone, thus leading to chronic anxiety issues.
  • Panic disorder – When feelings of sudden terror or panic become frequently in one’s life.
  • Social anxiety disorder – An obsessiveness where one suffers from irrational fear, selfconsciousness, embarrassment or anxiety simply by taking part in basic day-to-day interactions.

If you have reason to believe, or your child has already brought up his concerns with you about his anxiety issues, you might want to encourage him to see a doctor or contact the school’s health center for a psychological evaluation to further determine whether or not he’s undergoing an anxiety disorder. There’s also a series of techniques put out by the ADAA to help students experiencing persistent anxiety.

Other resource on treating anxiety disorders include:

  • American Psychological Association
  • Anxiety and Depression Association of America
  • Anxiety Resource Center
  • Beyond OCD
  • Social Anxiety Association


University can force your child to deal with a wide range of stresses and negative stimulus that could cause her to fall into a state of depression. In fact, the most common reason for college students drop out of school is depression, that if left untreated, could lead to more severe symptoms or even suicide.

“With depression being a disorder brought on by a mixture of biological, genetics, environmental and psychological factors, it’s important to recognize its onset early before it begins to take hold of your child’s life,” emphasizes Libbi Montes, who covers psychology topics at BestUKWriters.

However, the symptoms of depression can manifest themselves differently depending on the person, so it’s important to be aware of the general similarities of symptoms that show up amongst a range of people. Such symptoms may include:

Depression Symptoms to look for:

  • Significant change in weight or loss (or unusual gain) in appetite
  • General malaise, fatigue or sluggishness
  • Difficulty concentrating, struggling to make routine decisions
  • Feelings of gloominess or sadness
  • Slower cognitive functions
  • Fixation on problems of the past
  • Irritation or anger with no apparent reason for it
  • Persistent thoughts of death or suicide

One of the things about going to university is that 18-year-old freshman is suddenly given a level of independence that greatly exceeds anything they’ve had before. However, along with this new open world comes new friends, roommates, a dorm full of varying personalities and what can be the overwhelming challenge of college-level courses. Combine these factors with any sort of homesickness and/or insecurities and students can be overtaken by a feeling of loss of control or helplessness that can quickly morph into depression.

So what can you do if you sense your child is undergoing a bout of depression?

For starters, being a good listener when they try to discuss any issues with you and offering support and encouragement is a very good start. Telling your child to simply “tough it out” or “grow up” could very well only make matters worse. “Your child’s thoughts and feelings are more complex than just being able to switch depression on and off like a light switch, and if she’s depressed, it’s more than likely she doesn’t feel like she can control her feelings,” explains Adriana Cross, a FlyWriting contributor.

In addition, if your child continues to struggle while at school, either finding a health professional or encouraging her to seek one out, is a very important step to getting her back to a sense of mental wellbeing.  

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Here are some organizations that offer help to those dealing with depression:

  • National Institute of Mental Health
  • ULifeline
  • American College Health Association
  • ∙The Jed Foundation


As discussed above, the stresses a young student faces in college can really a toll on his health. And sometimes, if the mental trauma of hopelessness, guilt or depression are allowed to go on too long without being put in check, you wind up with the tragedy of a student taking his own life.

With statistics reporting that as high as 10% of university students have thought about committing suicide and over 1,000 suicides per year on college campuses, it’s critical to understand that the large majority of these students were dealing with depression or some other form of mental illness.

Signs to Look For

So as with depression and anxiety, it’s important to be able to recognize when your child might be showing signs that she is contemplating taking her own life. Signs can vary from person to person and they’re not always clear, but there are commonalities to watch out for. Here are some of them:

  • Severe and abrupt changes in behavior and personality
  • Being stuck in a dark or negative mood, giving off a sense of despair
  • ∙Complaining of extreme pain, either physically or emotionally
  • Talking directly or indirectly about the desire to die
  • Disengaging from social functions or friends
  • Poor academic performance
  • A sudden and odd calmness following an extensive bout of depression

If you are concerned about your child, you need to seek professional help immediately. It’s common for students to communicate their intentions in some way before they take their own life, so you should know the signals that something is wrong and take them seriously. “If you do suspect your child is thinking about suicide, you need to speak about it with them in a patient, sensitive way as soon as you can,” adds Payton Massey, Theessaytyper editor.

In addition, there are a number of resources you can seek out if you believe your child is having suicidal thoughts, some of these include:

  • Active Minds
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
  • The Trevor Project

In Conclusion

Only a certified specialist can diagnose mental problems. It is an especially tricky task when a young person is involved as they tend to keep their problems to themselves or their narrow circle of friends. However, parents should pay attention to the mental health of their child. The abovementioned tips should help with this but if you suspect your child has any of these symptoms, make sure to contact a specialist immediately.

university mental health day, mental health at university, causes of mental illness in college students, mental health problems in college students on the rise

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