Top 5 Mental Health Disorders Affecting College Students

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic affected just about everyone’s mental health. According to the World Health Organization, the pandemic triggered a 25% increase in anxiety and depression worldwide. A recent study done by Boston University noted that mental health conditions in college students have doubled since 2013.

With these statistics in mind, knowing what conditions are most prevalent in college students and how you can get support if needed can be helpful.

What Mental Health Conditions are Affecting College Students the Most?

With more than 200 classified forms of mental illness, here are the top 5 students are dealing with:

  1. Anxiety

College is an exciting time filled with new experiences and changes, but these new experiences can also be overwhelming. Often, students find themselves engulfed with class work, extracurricular activities, social events, and more. Finding a balance that makes life feel less stressful is not an easy feat, and facing a pandemic on top of that doesn’t make it any easier.

The American Psychological Association finds that around 41.6% of college students present symptoms of anxiety, and with that number consistently rising, soon enough, more than half of college students could be dealing with anxiety.

  1. Depression

Just as you can get overstimulated with everything college offers, you can also feel completely isolated and alone. Whether you’re moving to a new state and don’t know anyone or you find it hard to put yourself out there, college can feel lonely at times, and that feeling of detachment can create a breeding ground for depression. 

Depression can impact everyday life, making menial tasks like getting out of bed or going to class challenging. Around 30% of college students deal with depression and struggle through the impacts it causes. 

  1. Addiction/Substance Abuse Disorder

Getting sucked into the supposed “care-free” aspects of college is easy. It’s a time to experiment and try new things, but being aware of your decisions can help prevent you from slipping into addiction and substance abuse. 

According to a national survey by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 33% of college students in a given month engage in binge drinking. Alcohol abuse can lead to long-term health issues and result in medical complications.

If you participate in the college party scene, be safe and take precautions to maintain your physical and mental health.

  1. Eating Disorders

Not only are college students more likely to gravitate towards unhealthy coping mechanisms, but they are also learning to live independently. This combination contributes to the rise of eating disorders in college-aged students. A college student’s diet is a pivotal factor in their success in school. 

Ensuring that you are taking time to eat and fuel your body while engaging in healthy coping mechanisms can help prevent an eating disorder from forming.

The Child Mind Institute finds that 10 and 20% of college-aged women and 4 to 10% of college-aged men struggle with an eating disorder.

  1. ADHD

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder typically onsets in the early years of childhood. However, data representing ADHD in adults features a wide range due to the fact that many adults go undiagnosed and untreated for ADHD.

ADHD can affect a student’s performance on exams and homework and can cause them to do poorly in classes. ADHD also coincides with increased substance abuse disorders and alcohol abuse.

Mental Health Support for College Students

If you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition, it is crucial to reach out and find support. As much as you may want to maintain your newfound independence in college, it never hurts to seek help when you need it. 

There are many ways to seek help. With the need for affordable mental health care on the rise, students have many options, such as virtual therapy appointments and mental health apps.

Most college campuses have free or discounted counseling services available to students through their health centers, and plenty of outside organizations can provide support when you need it. JED Campus is a great place to start if you are looking for support geared towards college students. The National Alliance on Mental Health also provides support groups and helplines for anyone struggling with mental health. The National Institute of Mental Health also has a variety of hotlines and resources to get you the help you need.

College life is hard for many different reasons. Remember that you aren’t alone; we want to help you succeed!

How GradGuard Can Help

GradGuard is an authority on protecting students and families from the risks of college life. Trusted by a network of more than 400 participating colleges and universities, today, GradGuard is the number one provider of tuition and renters insurance for college students. Since 2009, GradGuard has protected more than one million students at more than 1,200 unique institutions.

Tuition Insurance can protect up to 100% of your family’s education investment for a small fraction of your overall tuition costs should a student withdraw for a covered medical reason. Tuition Insurance can cover:

  • Covered Serious Injury or Illness
  • Covered Mental Health Conditions
  • Covered Chronic Illness

Learn more about GradGuard and protect your future with tuition insurance today.


Joining the team for a second year, Morgan is a sophomore at the Walter Cronkite School in Downtown Phoenix for ASU Barrett Honor College. She’s a native Arizonian, and taking after her dad, she loves writing and art of all mediums. Morgan is excited to gain new experiences through her second summer as an intern at GradGuard and form new relationships with the GradGuard team.