Published: March 18, 2019

Students may experience anxiety, depression or other mental health concerns at different times and for different reasons throughout the year. Nationally, college students are experiencing increasing levels of anxiety and mental health challenges.

Learn more about the factors that are contributing to the rising levels of mental health concerns and how you can help.

Close-up of pink flowering tree on campusFactors contributing to student mental health concerns

A recent Education Advisory Board Report revealed there are many external factors driving the mental health crisis, including:

  • Intensified expectations: Students are facing early and persistent pressure to academically excel, fit in socially and be successful after graduation.
  • Substance use: Students may choose to experiment with alcohol and drugs to relax, or look to prescription drugs to focus and work late into the night.
  • Social media and technology use: The amount of time students spend online can amplify existing stressors and contribute to a sense of social isolation on campus.
  • New parenting styles: Highly involved parenting can create busy, overscheduled, failure-averse students who may struggle to adapt to challenges as they arise in college.

As students adjust to college and become more independent, it can become overwhelming as they learn to balance coursework, employment, extracurricular activities, relationships and other areas of life with intensified expectations.

Students may be in distress if they are struggling to be admitted to a certain program they feel will lead to their dream job. They may be operating in fear of losing scholarships or student visas if their GPA drops. They may learn best by studying in groups, but have trouble connecting with peers and feel socially isolated on campus. All of these factors can pile on and contribute to increasing mental health challenges.

How you can help

If you are concerned about a student’s mental health, here are some ways to help and support:

Use campus resources

Counseling & Psychiatric Services (CAPS) and Student Support and Case Management (SSCM) offer consultation services for faculty and staff who would like advice on how to best support a student. SSCM can consult with you in regards to options for your student and is a great resource to help faculty and staff determine how to best manage difficult situations. 

If you think there is an imminent risk of harm to the student or others, call 911.

Offer flexibility and options

If a student has been struggling, and approaches you about making up coursework or asking for extended deadlines, do not feel that you have to make a decision in the moment. If you are unsure about the level of flexibility you can offer, or what level of flexibility the student may need, you can offer general flexibility and ask the student to keep you updated.

Share resources with students

Incorporate health and wellness content and campus resources, such as CAPS workshops, the Let’s Talk program, CU Collegiate Recovery Center and SilverCloud Health in your syllabus. Faculty can share stress-management strategies and mindfulness techniques at key points in the semester, such as midterms and finals.

Learn more at the Health and Wellness Summit

The Health and Wellness Summit on April 25 will be a one-stop shop for faculty, staff and students to learn about holistic health and wellness strategies, programs, resources and support available at CU Boulder. The summit is free and there will be sessions on a variety of topics including supporting student resiliency, campus resources, stress management, peer programming and engagement, nutrition, emotional wellness, technology and more.

In addition to formal presentations and panels, the summit will also be hosting a variety of drop-in activities including a hands-on expo room and student involvement fair. Attendees will be able to leave the summit with skills and tips that they can apply immediately to their everyday routines.

Learn more and register for the Health and Wellness Summit.