How Mental Health Struggles Extend To Academic Performance

Poor mental health is a crisis, especially for college students. According to studies from the Journal of Affective Disorders, more than 60% of college students have experienced at least one mental health problem. In other surveys, at least three-quarters of students report moderate to severe distress in their well-being. 

Times have been tough – with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, rising financial costs of living, and other consequent life stressors; students are facing more challenges than ever worldwide. In many ways, the ways these factors impact their mental health have also been harmful to their academic success.

How Poor Mental Health Affects Academic Success

Although more students on campuses today have better access to mental health treatment and stigmas about mental health have been steadily dropping, many college students are still dealing with the array of challenges, from coursework, relationships, and campus life alongside the massive social and economic problems of today. 

Many college students report mental health difficulties to interfere with their studies. Some of the most common culprits of these difficulties come from:

  • Chronic Stress: About 4 in 5 college students experience frequent, recurring stress. While some levels of stress are normal, experiencing chronic stress can lead to side effects such as trouble concentrating, irritability, issues sleeping, and lethargy. 
  • Depression: Depression is considered one of the most common mental health conditions among college students. As a mood disorder, depression highly affects academic success, as it can cause emotional problems such as persistent sadness and loss of interest and contribute to poor physical health. 
  • Anxiety: Stress and anxiety are widespread experiences among college students due to the pressures of their academics. However, it is the leading mental health disorder among college students, as it often interferes with daily activities, affects social interactions, and contributes to trauma responses. 
  • Eating Disorders: While body positivity and social awareness are growing among younger populations, some college students still face eating disorders. Eating disorders can cause problems with gaining proper nutrition, athletic performance, and problems with maintaining energy for activities involving coursework. 
  • Substance Misuse: College students are commonly depicted using alcohol and recreational drugs in films and other forms of media, but these situations become bleak in reality. Alcohol misuse is considered one of the most common drugs abused in college scenarios, leading to a greater risk of dependency and poor academic performance. In other cases, students wishing to exceed under stress often result to Adderall, a drug used to treat ADHD, to feel more awake and alert, leading to dependency. 

Solutions Must Be Made to Treat Mental Health For College Students

When mental health problems combine with the stressors of academic performance, it can lead to long years of struggle for college students attempting to learn ways to cope and manage their lives. Colleges and universities must continuously reinforce mental health care as a priority and help remove the stigmas associated with seeking help in a college setting. Most of all, college students should always have access to the resources they need and know that their counselors and loved ones can help them when they need it most. 


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