TimelyMD Back-to-School Survey Reveals Good News, Bad News About Students’ Mental Health

Students say their top five stressors are now their own mental health, mass shootings, inflation, finances, and academics.

TimelyMD Back-to-School Survey Reveals Good News, Bad News About Students’ Mental Health

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Fort Worth, Texas — College students say their mental health is their top concern as the fall semester begins – even more so than their academics, inflation or mass shootings.

In a nationwide survey of nearly 1,200 college students by TimelyMD, the leading health and well-being provider in higher education, nearly seven out of 10 students (69%) report experiencing mental health issues such as stress, anxiety or depression. The overwhelming majority (86%) say their current level of stress and/or anxiety is the same as or greater than this time last year.

The good news? As mental health awareness becomes increasingly prevalent and de-stigmatized, students are more likely than ever to seek out emotional support (71%, up from 64% in January) – especially from their peers. Additionally, despite the majority of students reporting mental health issues, more than two-thirds of students (68%) would give their personal mental health a grade of ‘B’ or ‘C.’

In contrast to earlier this year when students said they were more stressed about COVID-19 than ever, the driving source of their stress is no longer the pandemic. In fact, more than half (54%) say they are less or not at all concerned about the pandemic and 60% think their campuses’ COVID precautions are appropriate.

Now students say their top five stressors are their own mental health (49%), mass shootings (41%), inflation (40%), finances (40%) and academics (38%). At the time of the survey, only 16% of students were concerned about monkeypox.

“Students’ top stressor is their own mental health – that’s saying something,” said Dr. Rufus Tony Spann, Executive Director of Mental Health at TimelyMD. “While survey results are encouraging and indicative of a societal shift in mental health awareness and greater recognition of resources, it’s clear students still need more support.”

The TimelyMD survey also found differences among various student groups, including some marginalized communities that have an increased risk of self-harm or suicidal ideation.

  • Gender identity: Non-binary students report experiencing mental health issues at a significantly higher rate (86%) than their female (75%) and male (60%) classmates.

  • Sexual orientation: LGBTQ+ students report feeling more stressed and anxious (79%) than their heterosexual peers (63%).

  • Race and ethnicity: Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander Native students report experiencing mental health issues more than any other racial/ethnic group (87%), with Black/African American students reporting the least (64%).

  • Student-athletes: 70% of student-athletes report experiencing mental health issues, though they are slightly more likely to seek emotional support (78%) than other students (71%)

Students said the best thing campuses can do to support their students right now is provide a hybrid approach to their health and well-being, especially with more virtual counseling/mental health support, followed closely by more in-person counseling/mental health support and additional peer-to-peer support resources.

“Like the effects of long-COVID on people’s physical health, the impact of long-term stress on people’s mental health is detrimental and concerning,” said Seli Fakorzi, Director of Mental Health Operations at TimelyMD. “The number one reason students leave college is for mental health reasons, and a team-based approach to care can ensure students stay healthy and are more likely to achieve their goals. It’s one way TimelyMD partners with campus professionals to improve student health and well-being.”

As colleges and university leaders seek solutions that improve student well-being, engagement and retention, they turn to TimelyMD more than anyone else for a best-in-class 24/7 virtual extension of campus health and counseling center resources with licensed providers in all 50 states. TimelyMD is the only virtual health and well-being provider focused exclusively on higher education that serves more than one million students at more than 200 colleges and universities nationwide.

The TimelyMD nationwide online survey was conducted between July 25-27, 2022.

About TimelyMD

TimelyMD is the leading virtual health and well-being solution for higher education. Its mission is to improve the well-being of college students by making virtual medical and mental health care accessible anytime, anywhere. TimelyMD’s virtual care platform, TimelyCare, includes a range of services, including mental health counseling, on-demand emotional support, medical care, psychiatric care, health coaching, basic needs assistance, faculty and staff guidance, and digital self-care content. Visit timely.md to learn how TimelyMD is inspiring the digital transformation of campus health and the future of student care.

If you or a loved one are struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can text TALK to 741741 or initiate an online chat  at suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/. Additional resources can also be found at SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.

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