Nearly one-third of Washington college students have experienced depression in the last year, and more than 10 percent have had thoughts of suicide, according to a new survey of young adults attending schools around the state.
The survey of more than 10,000 students at 13 of Washington’s two- and four-year institutions shows the need for mental health services on campus, advocates say, especially as the state Legislature considers two bills that would fund suicide-prevention resources in higher education and additional mental health counselors for college students who are veterans. It was the first time the Healthy Minds Study was administered to students in Washington.
“Nearly 4 out of 5 college students report that emotional distress impacts their academic performance,” said Jennifer Stuber, a University of Washington associate professor of social work and co-founder of Forefront Suicide Prevention. “During this major transition time in the lives of students, it is important to provide them with counseling and other types of support for emotional distress to ensure they can set a healthy course, flourishing academically, athletically and socially.”
Forefront and the JED Foundation are leaders of the statewide consortium of schools that is using the JED Campus Program to enhance suicide prevention programs. Schools in the cohort are able to access the Healthy Minds Study, an annual web-based survey of college students’ mental health that provided the newly released data about mental health in several states. The New York-based JED Foundation has developed similar, though smaller, groups of schools in other states—to build on student mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention services.