At times called the “anxious generation,” today’s students are facing a mental health epidemic. Several recent studies show an alarming and steadfastly growing trend in serious mental health conditions among college students. Rates of depression have increased from 25 percent to 30 percent from 2009 to 2017, and rates of suicidal ideation have doubled, from 5.8 percent to 10.8 percent over that same time period. According to Active Minds, an advocacy group focused on college students and mental health, suicide is now the second leading cause of death among college students. Many mental health conditions begin to present themselves in adolescence and young adulthood, meaning for some college students, severe symptoms are emerging at the same time they are making one of the biggest transitions of their life—moving out of their parent’s home and beginning to live as an independent adult.
To address issues of mental health stigma and access, Young Invincibles undertook two separate projects to reduce the barriers of stigma and access to care for college students with mental health concerns: a digital ad awareness campaign, and a campus-based initiative meant to expand existing services. YI believes college campuses can play a more active role in making resources available to students that will increase access and quality, and engaging students to educate their peers about the resources that are available, to help to break down stigma and other cultural and social barriers. YI also believes that social media offers a promising strategy for communicating with young adults to address these barriers. The report, developed with The Adolescent and Young Adult Health National Resource Center, describes YI’s work to date and recommendations.