Need & Help

Need & Help

A Time of Need, a Time of Help

College is a stressful time, and the stressors that besiege college students —classes, social life, extracurricular activities, jobs, parental pressure—can lead to sleep deprivation and other unhealthy behaviors, which in turn can exacerbate stress. Daniel Eisenberg, an associate professor of health management and policy, is interested in the links between stress and mental health disorders, which often show up for the first time during the college years.

“We’ve found, for example, that students who are experiencing financial stress are more likely to have mental health problems,” he says. “This would be one opportunity for college campuses to integrate efforts to help students with financial and mental health issues, because those connect for a lot of students.”
Eisenberg is principal investigator of the Healthy Minds Study, an ongoing national survey study of college-student mental health involving over 50 campuses and 50,000 respondents. A key aim of the study is to understand why so many students with mental health problems don’t get treatment. The researchers have found it’s often not because of stigma or financial ability, but rather because students—even those with thoughts of suicide—seem to lack a sense of urgency. Eisenberg hopes to develop new approaches to help get students with mental health disorders into treatment.

Because college is a self-contained environment, it offers more opportunities than society at large for interventions, he notes. Even with all its stressors, college may be the only time when people live in a community with so many supportive resources and people.