An increase in anxiety and depression in college students


The UConn Counseling for Mental Health Services is open to students who are in need of counseling as anxiety and depression increases in college students. (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

The UConn Counseling for Mental Health Services is open to students who are in need of counseling as anxiety and depression increases in college students. (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

Over the past five years the University of Connecticut Counseling Services has seen a continuous increase in students seeking mental health treatment for anxiety and depression—the two most common concerns in college level students according to the 2017 Annual Report the Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH).

Dr. Elizabeth Cracco, the director of the Counseling and Mental Health Services (CMHS) for the University of Connecticut said, “the demand is steady and increasing.”

Researchers analyzed data from the 2016-2017 academic school year from 147 colleges and counseling centers to try and understand why the students are seeking help. The data described 161,014 college students undergoing treatment.

Their results concluded that from 2013-17 there was a significant increase in the percentage of primary concern in students seeking help with anxiety and depression. The percentage of those with anxiety rose from 15 percent to approximately 18 percent, while those with depression rose from 19 percent to approximately 23 percent.

Cracco said that she aims to assist students in their struggles with anxiety, depression, college identity development and other mental health issues.

More students are entering college with prior experience in treatment, which could mean the students are more willing to seek help on campus. There is a larger impact from the group workshops and therapies because the students can realize they are in this together, Cracco said.  

“We are talking a great deal about social media, social isolation and its impact on mental health,” Cracco said. The group therapy sessions allow the students, “to be real with one another, flaws and all…whatever they are hearing from their peers is typically ten times more powerful than what a therapist can tell them.”

“Workload is a large majority of [the source of my stress],” second-semester psychology major Savannah McLean said, “There is greater stress in college than in high school because it means more.”

McLean also attributes the cause of her stress to the social interactions she encounters. She believes that social factors—maintaining relationships in a home state, making friends as an incoming freshman or even joining a club—add an element of pressure to her stress.

“The habit of repeatedly checking a social media account creates a fear of missing out or an unnecessary worry about the state of certain friendships,” McClean said. “It makes me wonder why I’m not out with those people or doing those things.”

Although she had not personally used the services, “The health services on campus do group therapy… a couple of my friends have used them,” McLean said. She believes it is important for the university to continue their outreach programs to assist students who are seeking help.

The first step to seeking help at UConn is to call the Counseling and Mental Health Department, Cracco said. The department provides daily drop-in consultation hours from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. and group sessions throughout the semester.

During the Drop-In Consultation,”students can consult with a counselor about their needs and move from there regarding clinical care or education services,” Cracco said. “Also, our website has all of the information about upcoming events and services.” 

Jillian Fernandes is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at

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