There has been an increasing number of students with severe mental health disabilities in college. In a 2014 national survey of postsecondary counseling centers, 52% of their clients had severe psychological issues, which was an increase from 44% in 2013. 26% of their clients took psychiatric medication, up from 20% in 2003 and 9% in 1994.
Unfortunately, most college students with mental health problems do not receive treatment. A 2011 study found that, among students with apparent mental health problems, approximately one in three received mental health treatment in the previous year. Reasons for not seeking treatment included thinking that problems will get better by themselves, stress is normal in college, and there is no time to seek treatment. Without adequate treatment, young adults experiencing a mental health issue are more likely to receive lower grade point average, drop out of college, or be unemployed than their peers without a mental health challenge.
Because they are invisible, mental health issues often do not receive much attention. It can be difficult for a student to explain how he/she is affected by a mental health issue. It is important to ensure that students who may be at risk are provided with mental health disability resources and knowledge about accommodations they may need to succeed in school.
For more information on mental health, visit What job preparation supports might benefit young people with mental health issues?, Academic Accommodations for Students with Psychiatric Disabilities, and Resources Related to Psychiatric Impairments.