More than 80% of students are at least as stressed as last year with fall semester looming

This is the third consecutive survey in which mental health topped the list of student stressors.

Students grappling with their mental health may be molding into the campus status quo as colleges and universities creak out of the pandemic, according to a new TimelyCare survey.

The telehealth provider surveyed 1,200 college students nationwide and discovered that 85% are experiencing more or the same level of stress compared to this time last year. Mental health is the prime catalyst: 55% of students cited it as their driving stress factor, which is six points higher than in August 2022. Physical health and finances (such as paying for college and loans) round out students’ top three stress factors.

This is the third survey in a row in which mental health tops the list of student stressors.

The Supreme Court’s rulings this summer had strong implications for this survey. More than half of students reported stress or anxiety around its decisions on striking down affirmative action (53%) and denying Biden’s student loan forgiveness (60%). Students submitted responses in July 2023, when the rulings were still top of mind.

While two-thirds of students plan to seek emotional support to manage their mental health for the upcoming fall and spring semesters, peer support remains the most sought-after remedy, reflecting TimelyCare’s (formerly known as TimelyMD) January findings.

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Don’t forget about your student-athletes

Student-athletes, too, noted mental health as the most influential element contributing to their stress and anxiety (52%), higher than concerns based on physical health, finances and academics.

Moreover, sleep deprivation among student-athletes is higher than among non-athletes. This is concerning considering the intense practices, competitions and travel schedules student-athletes endure. The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Students who get any less face a higher risk of experiencing depressive symptoms.

However, 90% of student-athletes reported their intention to seek in-person or virtual counseling in the coming academic year. They are far more receptive to support than the rest of the student body, only 75% of whom reported taking these proactive measures with a professional.

“Mental health crises are not scheduled, and we cannot expect college students to wait days or weeks for care during their darkest hours,” said Dr. Bob Booth, chief care officer at TimelyCare. “Being able to connect with students whenever and wherever they are is crucial to help stop the cycle of sick care and start students on the fast track to personal and academic success so they can be well and thrive.”

Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel is a UB staff writer and Florida Gator alumnus. A graduate in journalism and communications, his beats have ranged from Gainesville's city development, music scene, and regional little league sports divisions. He has triple citizenship from the U.S., Ecuador, and Brazil.

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