Decline Found in Freshman’s Mental Health

A few weeks ago I noted a disturbing article in the Wall Street Journal (1/27/11) which reported the results of a national survey of 200,000 full-time first year students in 280 colleges and universities. That’s a hugh sample! It stated that their emotional health had fallen to the lowest level in a quarter of a century.

While 52% of first year college students rated their emotional health as above average, that’s down from 64% in 1985, the first year students were asked these questions. Unfortunately, the article had nothing to say about the numbers of average to below average percentages for our sons and daughters and how those numbers might have increased with the lowering of mental health in the above average category. I doubt only we over achievers read the Journal.

College administrators and counselors weren’t surprised as the decline has been going down through the past 25 years. One researcher said: “The trend has been more students coming to college who either have been diagnosed with mental health issues or who are proactive at seeking out help.” The article noted freshmen women face “emotional challenges at a higher rate than males” and are at a “much greater risk for depression.”

Well, the bright side is college kids seek out help, but the down side is they are hurting more, especially the girls. So why the decline in psychological resiliency to cope with the challenges of college life? And why are our daughters facing a tougher time? And what does this portend for later developmental changes like full-time jobs and careers, life with and without marriage and family life?

The article was based on the “Freshman Survey” administered by the Higher Education Research Institute of UCLA. We’ll share other news of note from the media that interest us, so stay in touch.