There is a growing mental health crisis on college and university campuses across the U.S., according to a report published by Gallup and the Lumina Foundation in late March.
In the past six months, 41% of all current students surveyed have considered “stopping out” – “withdrawing from the program for at least one term.” Associate degree students (44%) are slightly more likely than bachelor’s students (36%) to say they’ve considered “stopping out.”
The two leading causes for such considerations are emotional distress (55% of all students) and personal mental health reasons (47% of all students). A higher percentage of bachelor’s degree students cited these reasons (69% and 59%, respectively) than associate degree students (55% and 47%, respectively).
Other commonly cited reasons to consider “stopping out” were: cost of the degree program (29% of all students), inflation makes it less affordable (22%), coursework was too difficult (21%), personal physical health reasons (17%), no longer interested (14%) and did not believe degree would help achieve personal goals (12%).
Most (86%) of all respondents frequently or occasionally experience stress, while 15% rarely or never do. These totals add up to 101% due to rounding.
Female students (47%) were more likely than male students (30%), lower-income students (49%) were more likely than higher-income students (38%), white students (44%) were more likely than Hispanic (38%), Black (31%) or Asian (30%) students, and students under 25 (43%) were more likely than those 25-29 (29%) and 30 and older (20%) to say they frequently feel stressed.
Most students offered positive reviews of their school’s mental health resources, but students who have considered “stopping out” had a much lower percentage of positive reviews.
For example, 73% of students who have not considered “stopping out” rated their school’s quality of mental health resources as either excellent or good, compared to 55% of students who have considered “stopping out.”
“Though COVID-19 undoubtedly added to the stress facing U.S. college students, it only exacerbated a longer- term trend among teens and young adults,” Stephanie Marken, Gallup executive director for education, said in a press release announcing the report. “Students are no less likely than they were in 2021 to have considered stopping their coursework. These results underscore the urgency of this issue by highlighting the extent to which issues related to mental health dominate students’ reasons for potentially stopping out.”
The full report is available here.
Editor’s note: This article is part of a series this week calling attention to May as Mental Health Month. The previous articles in the series are:
Churches Can Help ‘Stamp Out Stigma’ Around Mental Health | Starlette Thomas
Addressing Mental Health Post-Pandemic | Michael Chancellor
Remove Logs, Save Lives: Affirming Trans Youth | Kali Cawthon-Freels
How Screen Time Impacts Teens’ Mental Health | Monty Self