WASHINGTON, DC, September 24, 2019 — Key findings from a recent survey by Active Minds and The National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) of 9,319 academically high-achieving college students nationwide illustrate the unique needs of these students, and how their universities can better support their mental health while on campus. This comes at a time when depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts are on the rise among college students, according to the national Healthy Minds Study and National College Health Assessment (NCHA).
The vast majority (91%) of students surveyed, all of whom maintain grade point averages of 3.4 or above at U.S. colleges and universities, felt overwhelmed by all they had to do in the last year – higher than the national average at 87%, according to the NCHA. Despite achieving a high grade point average, two out of three respondents experienced a need for mental health services in the last year.
While dealing with significant challenges, high-achieving students also have positive attitudes about mental health services and are likely to seek help. In fact, 73% of respondents have sought help from someone in the last 12 months.
However, hurdles still remain: 46% of respondents believe that most people think less of a person who has received mental health treatment and more than 50% reported that either they do not have enough time or financial resources or that they prefer to deal with issues on their own.
Next to the counseling center and close friends, students reported a preference for seeking help from an academic advisor or professor. Unfortunately, more than two-thirds of students surveyed do not feel comfortable doing so.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATORS, FACULTY AND ACADEMIC ADVISORS
- Validate, Appreciate, and Refer
“Faculty are not experts and do not need to be. They can help a struggling student just by being there for them”, says Active Minds’ Chief Program Officer, Laura Horne. Active Minds recommends a critical and yet simple means of providing help through V-A-R, their ‘Validate, Appreciate, and Refer’ process, as well as by keeping handy a quick reference sheet with contact information of the campus counseling center and other resources.
- Normalize the need for help.
Faculty can validate that mental health issues are common, especially among college students, and verbalize to students that they can ask for help. Says Stephen Loflin, NSCS Founder and CEO, “the number one thing students report valuing most in a professor is approachability”.
- Keep overachievers on your radar.
Loflin adds, “Our data validates that high-achieving students struggle, too. It is important for faculty and advisors to keep overachievers on their radar throughout the academic year.”
- Embed wellbeing into your curriculum.
Research shows that skill-building is important. Faculty can showcase wellbeing resources and services in the first week of classes. Horne suggests, “add wellness resources to your course syllabi. Start class with a mindful moment or meditation. Assign self-care as homework. Set deadlines for assignments at a time of day that encourages students to get enough sleep — avoid midnight or late night deadlines.”
- Advocate for more support.
Faculty can lead the charge in transforming their campus culture around mental health, says Horne. “Ask your administration for more training and resources to foster a culture of well-being.” She notes, “mental health issues are the number one reason students drop out.” An institution can examine if and how it prioritizes mental health, using Active Minds’ Healthy Campus Award Key Finding Reports.
- Remember to practice your own self-care.
As much as anything, it’s important for faculty to exemplify wellbeing practices. “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” reminds Horne. Faculty feeling down or stressed can investigate benefits and services available through their campus’ Employee Assistance Program.
ABOUT ACTIVE MINDS
Active Minds is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization supporting mental health awareness and education for young adults. Through our presence on more than 800 high school and college campuses, in the workplace, and through a wide-reaching public audience, Active Minds is creating communities of support and saving lives. Together we can change the conversation about mental health. Join us at activeminds.org.
ABOUT NATIONAL SOCIETY OF COLLEGIATE SCHOLARS (NSCS)
The National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) is an honors organization that recognizes and elevates high-achieving first-and-second year students. With its three pillars of scholarship, leadership and service, NSCS is proud to provide career and graduate school connections, leadership and service opportunities and gives out more than a million dollars in scholarships (often with multiple recipients per award), awards and chapter funds annually. NSCS has 320+ chapters nation-wide and nearly two million lifetime members globally. NSCS is a 501c3 registered nonprofit, certified member of the Association of College Honor Societies, member of the National Collegiate Honors Council, American Association of Community Colleges, and 100 percent FERPA compliant, per an independent review by AACRAO.
Angela Gillis | Active Minds
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