Survey On Mental Health Struggles Reveals That Students Opt-Out of College Due To Anxiety And Depression

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As high school juniors and seniors contemplate their futures, the decision to pursue higher education weighs heavily on many. However, for a significant portion of students, concerns about mental well-being are influencing their choices, leading them to either delay college enrollment or forego it altogether.

A recent study conducted by EAB, formerly known as the Education Advisory Board, has brought to light a concerning statistic: nearly one-third of the nearly 6,500 students surveyed cited mental health concerns as the primary reason for opting out of college.

This trend is particularly pronounced among underrepresented groups, with mental well-being issues disproportionately affecting students from LGBTQ+ and marginalized communities.

Survey On Mental Health Struggles Of Students

The study revealed that 54% of transgender students, 53% of nonbinary students, 33% of Black students, 30% of Native American students, and 30% of female students cited mental health concerns as a barrier to pursuing higher education.

These findings shed light on the unique challenges faced by these communities, which often extend beyond the typical stressors associated with college planning and independent living.

Eric Layland, a researcher and assistant professor at the University of Delaware, echoes the study’s findings, emphasizing the deeper stressors experienced by LGBTQ+ students. Layland notes that LGBTQ+ students face systemic and day-to-day mistreatment and devaluation based on their minority identities. This includes navigating political climates that threaten their basic human rights, particularly for trans and non-binary students.

In addition to concerns about acceptance and identity validation, LGBTQ+ students also grapple with accessing affirming mental and physical health care and finding supportive living and workplace environments. These added stressors compound the challenges of college planning and exacerbate anxiety and depression among LGBTQ+ adolescents.

The survey underscores the pervasive impact of mental health struggles on college search and planning. Layland highlights the alarming rates of anxiety and depression among LGBTQ+ youth, noting that suicide attempts are higher within this demographic.

This is particularly concerning given that suicide ranks as the third leading cause of death in Delaware for individuals aged 10-24.

According to data from America’s Health Ranking, queer high school students in Delaware are more likely to consider suicide attempts compared to their heterosexual counterparts. These findings underscore the urgent need for targeted interventions and support services to address the mental health needs of LGBTQ+ and marginalized youth.

In response to these challenges, educators and policymakers must prioritize mental health support services and create inclusive environments that validate the identities and experiences of all students.

By addressing the systemic barriers and stigma surrounding mental health, we can work towards creating a more equitable educational landscape where all students feel supported and empowered to pursue their academic and personal goals.


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