According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 50% of college students report that their mental health status is below average or poor. Additionally, about 25% of students had experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings. Unfortunately, only 50% of students say that they were given information on mental health issues before heading to college. As such, many campuses and mental health professionals across Indiana are calling for an increase in mental health resources. Because so many individuals who suffer from mental illness turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with their feelings, this increase in resources could prevent the resulting substance abuse. College and Mental Health Attending college is a major step in anyone’s life. Often, these young people are ill equipped to handle the transition to campus. For many students, it is the first time they have lived away from home. Students are immediately thrown into a life of responsibility and self-reliance. Unfortunately, this sudden change can cause stress. Students must now take care of themselves academically, socially, personally, and maybe even financially. Balancing a course load with social pressures and daily responsibilities can create a stressful environment. For many, the demanding transition from home to campus can lead to or exacerbate mental illness. In fact: • 41.6% of college students experience anxiety; and • 36.4% experience depression. The number of college students who experience mental health issues seems to be increasing. Nearly 95% of counseling centers surveyed suggested that the issue is a growing concern. Addressing Mental Illness Can Prevent Substance Abuse For college students who are trying to cope with mental illness, turning to illicit substances may be an easy choice. Not only is there peer pressure on campuses, but drugs and alcohol may be widely available. The combination of negative feelings, along with the pressure and availability of illicit substances can easily lead to an addiction. The relaxation, euphoria, or happiness they feel when they consume drugs or alcohol, however, is only a short-term fix. In fact, it can lead to a detrimental cycle, as abusers need an increasing amount of drugs or alcohol to get the same effect. Unfortunately, this is not a problem that is limited to college campuses. Across the nation, about 7.9 million individuals suffer from both substance abuse and mental health disorders, concurrently. As such, to prevent substance abuse on college campuses, it will be necessary to address one major root cause: mental illness. By addressing mental health issues on campus and making resources widely available, more students will be able to get the help they need. As this practice becomes more common, the stigma associated with both mental health issues and substance abuse disorders will be diminished, thus encouraging more and more students to seek help. For a comprehensive look at your options for treating mental health issues and substance abuse as co-occurring conditions, please feel free to contact us at Choices Recovery today.