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Teens & College Students

"Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent psychiatric problems among college students."

source: The National Center for Biotechnology Information
Click here to download ADAA's College and Mental Health infographic.

The teenage years are often very stressful with emotional and physical changes that can be overwhelming. And determining whether a certain behavior is normal or a symptom of a mental health condition can be difficult. Learn when to ask for help, how to talk to your friends and family about mental health, and more.1

Social Media and Anxiety 

Teenagers and college students are spending more and more time on social media. Many studies in recent years have found that suicidal thoughts and depression have increased in teenagers, notably for those who use electronic devices for many hours daily. Additionally, sleeplessness, loneliness, worry, and dependence have risen.2 

Youth Engaged 4 Change tip sheet suggests a few healthy ways for people to use social media; take breaks from using it, track screen time, and follow accounts that are supportive. Along with Engaged 4 Change, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) also provides some tips for using social media.3

Here are suggestions for protecting your mental health while using social media:

  • Limit your time on social media platforms. Apple and Google have settings to help you do this automatically on your phone.
  • Consider what sites and profiles you visit; leave or unfollow a profile/page/site if it is making you feel worse.
  • Before you post something about yourself or someone else, consider if you would make this comment in an in-person setting. Remember that what you post will be very hard to take back or remove.
  • Remember that what people post, or what you see, may not be honest or real presentations of their experiences or lives.
  • Tell an adult you trust — a parent, teacher, school counselor — immediately if a friend is posting content that worries you or suggests that they may be in a serious situation.

Covid-19 Impact

According to a study by researchers at Texas A&M University, 71% of the interviewed students reported: “increased stress and anxiety due to the COVID-19 outbreak.”4 Anxiety was related to fear and worry for the health of others and themselves, changes in sleeping patterns, academic performance, and more.   

Resources for increased anxiety, depression, or other feelings due to the pandemic:

  • National Suicidal Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-271-8255, Text “START” for the Crisis Text Line.
  • Many universities have Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), where students might have access to therapy, support groups, and crisis response. Look on your school’s website or contact a campus administrator to find out if your university offers these services. 
  • University of Michigan: Coping with the COVID-19 Pandemic as a College Student provides useful tips for college students dealing with changes to their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Mental Health Resources For Adolescents and Young Adults lists resources such as apps, helplines, and advocacy for mental health for young adults. and adolescents.

Sexual Violence  

Sexual assault is prevalent on college campuses but oftentimes not reported to law enforcement. Sexual violence affects millions of Americans, but the majority of victims are those between 12 to 34 years old.5 Following sexual violence, victims can experience long-term mental health effects.

Resources for victims of sexual assault:

Facts & Statistics

  • 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin developing by age 14, and 75% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin developing by age 24.
  • The 2nd leading cause of death in youth ages 10-24 is suicide.
  • 8-10 years is the average delay between onset and intervention.
  • 50% of students age 14 or older with a mental illness drop out of high school, and 70% of youth in state and local juvenile justice systems have a mental illness.
  • 40 million U.S. adults suffer from an anxiety disorder and 75% of them experience their first episode of anxiety by the age of 22.

Sources: NAMI.org and CDC.gov

  • An estimated 31.9% of adolescents had an anxiety disorder, this was similar across age groups.
  • Around 8.3% of adolescents with an anxiety disorder had severe impairment. DSM-IV criteria were used to determine impairment.
  • The prevalence of an anxiety disorder among adolescents was higher for females (38.0%) than for males (26.1%).

Based on diagnostic interview data from National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A)


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References: 

  1. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). (2021). Warning Signs and Symptoms. NAMI.org. https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Warning-Signs-and-Symptoms.
  2. Harvard Graduate School of Education (Harvard GSE). (2017). Social Media and Teen Anxiety. GSE.harvard.edu. https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/17/12/social-media-and-teen-anxiety.
  3. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). (2021). Social Media and Mental Health; Suggestions For Protecting Your Mental Health. NAMI.org. https://www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Kids-Teens-and-Young-Adults/Teens/Social-Media-and-Mental-Health.f
  4. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). (2020, September). Effects of COVID-19 on College Students’ Mental Health in the United States: Interview Survey Study. NCBI.gov. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7473764/.
  5. Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). (n.d.) Victims of Sexual Violence: Statistics. RAINN.org. https://www.rainn.org/statistics/victims-sexual-violence.
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