Decline in Mental Health Seen in College Students Returning to Campus

Findings based on surveys of Ohio State students in August 2020 and April 2021

MONDAY, Aug. 9, 2021 (HealthDay News) — There are rising rates of anxiety, depression, burnout, and the use of unhealthy coping mechanisms among college students, according to surveys conducted by The Ohio State University.

Ohio State conducted surveys in August 2020 and April 2021 of randomly selected students to assess changes in mental health, coping strategies, healthy lifestyle behaviors, and needs over time. The analysis included 1,072 respondents.

The survey revealed increases from August 2020 to April 2021 for anxiety (39 versus 42.6 percent), depression (24.1 versus 28.3 percent), and burnout (40 versus 71 percent). Student-identified coping methods included eating more unhealthy food (25 percent in August 2020 to 29 percent in April 2021), use of alcohol (15.5 to 18 percent), use of tobacco/vaping (6 to 8 percent), and physical activity (35 to 28 percent). Use of a mental health counselor increased from 13 to 22 percent.

“Two-thirds of students who are no longer in college are not in college due to a mental health issue,” Bernadette Melnyk, vice president for health promotion, chief wellness officer, and dean of the College of Nursing at Ohio State, said in a statement. “How can we send our students throughout life without giving them the resiliency, cognitive-behavioral skills, and coping mechanisms that we know are protective against mental health disorders and chronic disease?”

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