BOSTON (CBS) – New concerns arise about the mental health of students on college campuses all across the country.
Dr. Gene Beresin, a psychiatrist and Executive Director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital, says 50% to 60% of college students have a psychiatric disorder.
“What I’m including in that is the use of substances, anxiety, depression, problems with relationships, break-ups, academic problems, learning disabilities, attentional problems,” says Dr. Beresin. “If you add them all up 50% doesn’t seem that high.”
Some undergraduates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) agree.
“People go through tough times,” says Dane Erickson, a rising junior from Naples, Florida. “It’s really stressful sometimes here at school.”
“I know a couple of friends who had a difficult first semester last year,” explains Maddie Burgoyne, a rising sophomore from Michigan.
Dr. Beresin says the suicide rate in college in astronomical. “A college student kills himself every day,” he says.
Maddie is also concerned about the higher than average suicide rate a MIT. “I think that’s something unique to MIT,” she says, “you can’t blame the institute itself. The type of student that goes here often puts a lot of pressure on themselves.”
Dr. Beresin says the brain doesn’t fully mature until age 26 so college students are put in a difficult situation.
“Living alone, not being prepared to be on your own,” says Dr. Beresin. “Peer pressure. I mean, the ability to kind of freely use alcohol or drugs and make those decisions on your own without supervision.”
And for international students, the challenges are even greater.
“There are a lot of new factors that play when you come to college especially for international students who don’t know the area at all but yeah, it can be overwhelming at times,” explains Andrea Jaba, an MIT freshman from the Philippines.
But Andrea has at least one strategy she learned from upperclassmen to help her keep her sanity.
“You better join a lot of clubs aside from academics so you don’t drown yourself in all that stress,” says Andrea.
And some colleges are being proactive. For the first time, MIT is requiring incoming freshman to complete an online simulation program that will teach them the warning signs of depression, suicide and other psychiatric issues before starting classes.