College Students and Mental Illness: A Student’s Perspective

College Students and Mental Illness: A Student’s Perspective


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We are pleased to feature a NEW blog series about college students and mental illness, written by college students. This series will explore various aspects of mental illness and the pressures faced by young adults in the college years.


tim-gouw-227623As a twenty-one year old college senior at a Christian university, I’m surrounded by many students who are on fire for God. But I’m also surrounded by many students who are struggling with different mental illnesses that no one likes to talk about.

Depression and anxiety have a huge impact on the lives of many students, and you begin to wonder if college is the main trigger. Before college, I didn’t know many students battling with depression and anxiety; the majority of people around me seemed fine. Only a few people, those who were willing to talk about it, received an official diagnosis of depression/anxiety.


Why is no one talking about these issues? Two possible answers pop into my mind:

  1. People are not talking about it because society isn’t talking about it.


  1. College puts so many transitions and stressors on a student in such a short period of time that it becomes hard to cope with.


I’m only a student, with no advanced degree to prove my point, but I am in the midst of a college life. Based on what I have experienced, heard, and seen, I believe both of these answers are correct.

Society does not like to talk about mental illness, and when it is discussed it’s diminished and belittled. People are quick to judge and think that those with mental illnesses are passively requesting pity when in reality they are trying to seek out help. Consequentially, those with mental illnesses try to fight the battle alone; which sometimes leads them down an even more detrimental lifestyle of suppressed pain.

element5-digital-352048Secondly, college has put overwhelming amounts of pressure on the lives of students. The transition into college is the first big trigger for depression and anxiety. Some anxiety is normal during this period, as students are experiencing a situational crisis. Most students will cope and grow from it, moving forward and adjusting to a new time in life. But some do not adjust as well as others. It is important to remember that, as with any crisis, it is idiosyncratic. What one person may successfully overcome, another person may not.

No two students are alike and everyone comes from different backgrounds. Some students have had to experience change their whole lives, whereas some have lived and grown up in the same hometown.


Students can cope with these generalized crises in various ways:

  1. The person can grow from the experience
  2. The person can repress the anxiety and stress resulting from the transition, only for it to keep resurfacing
  3. The person can decompensate psychologically because of the transition and become depressed


element5-digital-352046Because mental illness is not spoken about often in society and people rarely talk about the symptoms, students walk around thinking that it will eventually go away. For some it might, but for others, help is needed. Many of the students do not realize that they can easily access counseling services through the school. And some who do know about it are ashamed or embarrassed to go. I believe society, again, has played a big role in this stigma of receiving counseling.


Mental illness needs to be addressed and here are some ways to do so:

  1. Talk openly about it. Stop allowing it to be the elephant in the room.
  2. Educate yourself and others
  3. Show that mental health is just as important as physical health
  4. Show love and compassion to people with mental illness
  5. Talk about treatment


It’s time to start talking about mental illness just as much as physical illness. It is also time to start taking on one another’s burdens rather than ignoring it.


Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2



IMG_3169Michaela Williams was born and raised in Northern Virginia. She is a student at Liberty University studying Psychology with a concentration in counseling. She is an intern at the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC). She enjoys working part-time at her local coffee shop and teaches paint classes at her local art studio. Besides school and work, she is involved with Woven Together Ministries where she writes blogs and co-hosts on their radio show. She is passionate about others learning about Jesus and finding healing through the love and grace the Lord provides.