As a result of and the global COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine orders, the U.S. is facing a concurrent epidemic in mental health, and we’ve seen that college students are one of the groups feeling the effects. This makes student mental health an absolute priority at institutions across the country.

Roughly 46.6 million Americans suffer from a mental, behavioral or emotional disorder, which represents nearly 20 percent of the total U.S. population, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. For young adults between the ages of 18 and 25, this figure jumps to 25.8 percent. Even more concerning is the fact that 7.5 percent of young adults suffer from a mental illness serious enough to cause meaningful functional impairment on a daily basis.

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Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating this issue. According to an August poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 53 percent of American adults say their mental health has been negatively impacted due to coronavirus-related worry and stress. Younger college-aged students are undoubtedly impacted similarly in regard to their mental health as they experience significant financial strain and face a higher level of uncertainty about their futures, while also isolating from friends and loved ones.

In fact, 70 percent of college mental health counseling directors recently noted there has been a significant increase in the number of students living with serious psychological conditions over the last few years. At the same time, only 19 percent of those counselors said their campus has the student mental health services adequate to meet this growing need.

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About the Author:

Dr. Victoria L. Bastecki-Perez is the President of Montgomery County Community College of Pennsylvania.