Lipson SK, Zhou S, Abelson S, et al. Trends in college student mental health and help-seeking by race/ethnicity: Findings from the national healthy minds study, 2013-2021. J Affect Disord. 2022;306:138-147. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2022.03.038.
Background: A considerable gap in knowledge exists around mental health trends in diverse racial and ethnic adolescent and young adult populations. The purpose of this study is to examine annual trends for mental health and help-seeking by race/ethnicity in a national sample of college students.
Methods: Survey data come from >350,000 students at 373 campuses that participated in the Healthy Minds Study between 2013 and 2021. Analyses are descriptive in nature focusing on year-by-year prevalence and help-seeking rates for each racial/ethnic group.
Results: In 2020-2021, >60% of students met criteria for one or more mental health problems, a nearly 50% increase from 2013. Mental health worsened among all groups over the study period. American Indian/Alaskan Native students experienced the largest increases in depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and meeting criteria for one or more mental health problem. Students of color had the lowest rates of mental health service utilization. The highest annual rate of past-year treatment for Asian, Black, and Latinx students was at or below the lowest rate for White students. Although Arab American students experienced a 22% increase in prevalence, there was an 18% decrease in treatment.
Limitations: Response rates raise the potential of nonresponse bias. Sample weights adjust along known characteristics, but there may be differences on unobserved characteristics.
Conclusions: Findings have important implications for campus mental health programming and underscore the urgency of reducing mental health inequalities in college student populations through the identification and implementation of best practices both in clinical settings and through system-level change.