We can all face issues with mental health, and college students are no exception. The pressures of balancing courses, social life, work and taking on student loan debt can all weigh heavily on your sense of well-being.
Let’s look at college and mental health, including common challenges and how to deal with them. Specifically:
- Substance use disorders
- Eating disorders
- Plus: If student loan debt is harming your mental health
Mental health challenges in college
Mental health challenges — whether from coursework or student loan debt — are common among college students, sometimes impacting their ability to study, work, concentrate, sleep or eat.
According to a nationwide survey administered in the fall of 2020, college students are more likely to face mental health challenges than in past years. Key findings included:
- Nearly 4 in 10 college students indicated symptoms of depression, with 2 in 10 screening positive for major depression.
- College students are anxious: Thirty-four percent of students had a positive screening for anxiety, with 16% screening positive for severe anxiety.
- More than 10% of college students had suicidal thoughts, with 6% admitting to having made a suicide plan in the last year.
- Over 10% of students screened positive for an eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia.
- More than 80% of students reported having one or more days a month in which mental or emotional health challenges hurt their academic performance.
- In addition, 6 in 10 students experienced feelings of loneliness, with 66% of students feeling isolated and 62% reporting that they lacked companionship at least some of the time.
We all get sad at times, but depression is a consistent mood of sadness. It is a mood disorder characterized by feelings of hopelessness and sorrow. Among college students, LGBTQ students and students of color are at significant risk of developing depression.
While there are several types of depression, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) list the following common symptoms:
- Extreme sadness for extended periods of time
- Feelings of hopelessness or despondency
- Loss of interest in activities you previously enjoyed
- Feelings of worthlessness and helplessness
- Change of appetite or weight
- Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
How to get help: Depression is sometimes a cause of students dropping out of college. And in some cases, depression can lead to suicide, the NIH reported. Even severe depression can be treated, so it’s important to get the help you need. Treatment might include psychotherapy, medication or a combination of the two. You can also take steps to help yourself by exercising, spending time with friends and family and confiding in a trusted person.
It is normal to feel a little nervous before a big exam, a job interview or a similarly stressful situation, but anxiety lasts longer and may get worse over time. Anxiety disorders can hurt your ability to go to class, socialize, study or even sleep.
There are several types of anxiety:
|Generalized anxiety disorder||● Having consistent feelings of worry or fear about health, work, social life and everyday interactions
● Sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep and feelings of restlessness
|Social anxiety disorder||● Fear of social interactions
● Worrying about being judged by others
● Avoidance of social settings
|Panic disorder||● Unexpected and recurring panic attacks
● Accelerated heartbeat
● Feelings of terror or being out of control
In addition, anxiety also includes specific phobias, such as agoraphobia, which can involve fear of crowds.
How to get help: If you experience anxiety, there are several ways you can get help, but consult with a doctor to determine the best option for you. You might want to consider psychotherapy or, if appropriate, anti-anxiety or antidepressant medicines prescribed by a medical professional. Likewise, engaging in exercise and other physical activity may help you manage your anxiety.
Substance abuse is no stranger to college campuses, whether at parties or even at late-night study sessions. According to research, nearly half of college students binge drink alcohol, and nearly 1 in 5 college students do so regularly. Up to a third of college students have misused stimulants, such as Adderall.
A substance use disorder is a mental disorder that can lead to a person’s inability to control their consumption of alcohol or drugs, whether legal or illegal. It may be associated with other mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety.
How to get help: Substance abuse and substance use disorders can sometimes contribute to the development of other mental health issues. Substance use can also lead to academic problems, including poor grades or even dropping out. If you suffer from a substance use disorder, consult a doctor about the best treatment plan. It might include individual or group therapy, medication or some combination of these.
Eating disorders are not dieting, nor are they a lifestyle choice. Rather, an eating disorder is a serious mental illness that affects a person’s eating behaviors and thoughts about food.
These disorders are most common among young adult women, and college is a common setting for them to occur.
While there are many variations of this illness, two types of eating disorders are:
|Anorexia nervosa||● Fear of gaining weight and relentless pursuit of being skinny
● Holding a distorted image of one’s body
|Bulimia nervosa||● Eating large amounts of food, followed by purging through self-induced vomiting or laxatives|
How to get help: Treatment is important because eating disorders may put a person at a higher risk for other medical problems and even for suicide. Consult with a doctor about the right treatment plan for your situation. Some methods might include individual or group therapy, nutritional counseling and even medical care and observation.
Suicide can be related to any of the mental illnesses discussed above. As the second-leading cause of death among people age 10-34 in the U.S. in 2019, suicide is a serious mental health concern for college students.
How to get help: If you are in crisis or have any thoughts of suicide whatsoever, it’s definitely worth your time to call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This free and confidential service is available to anyone, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Whether or not you’re still in college, any student loan you have might be a significant cause of stress. According to a 2020 Student Loan Hero study, student loan borrowers are more than twice as likely to feel depressed about their finances as those without student loans.
If this situation sounds familiar, and you are facing anxiety or depression because of your student loans, there are steps you can take to get help.
First of all, you can learn strategies to cope, such as seeking treatment from a medical professional and reaching out to supportive friends and family for support. You can look into adjusting your student loan payment plan if you have federal loans — or consider refinancing if you have private loans.
You could also speak with your employer’s human resources department for guidance or to see if your employer has any programs to help with repayment. There are also some public options to help repay your educational debt.
No matter what your situation, there are resources to find help.
Paul Sisolak contributed to this report.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 9 lenders of 2021!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.88% – 6.15%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.88% – 5.64%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.85%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 6.59%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.88% – 5.64%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.90% – 5.25%7||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.39% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|2.13% – 5.25%8||Undergrad & Graduate|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of June 1, 2021.
2 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.
Interest Rate Disclosure
Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 2.48% APR to 5.79% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.88% APR to 5.64% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 36% (the maximum allowable for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 2.04% and 5.8% to the one month LIBOR. Earnest rate ranges are current as of 6/8/2021, and are subject to change based on market conditions.
Auto Pay Discount Disclosure
You can take advantage of the Auto Pay interest rate reduction by setting up and maintaining active and automatic ACH withdrawal of your loan payment. The interest rate reduction for Auto Pay will be available only while your loan is enrolled in Auto Pay. Interest rate incentives for utilizing Auto Pay may not be combined with certain private student loan repayment programs that also offer an interest rate reduction. For multi-party loans, only one party may enroll in Auto Pay.
Student Loan Refinancing Loan Cost Examples
These examples provide estimates based on payments beginning immediately upon loan disbursement. Variable APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 5.89% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,042.39. For a variable loan, after your starting rate is set, your rate will then vary with the market. Fixed APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 6.04% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,249.77. Your actual repayment terms may vary.Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest. com/terms-of-service, e-mail us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
Earnest Loans are made by Earnest Operations LLC or One American Bank, Member FDIC. Earnest Operations LLC, NMLS #1204917. 535 Mission St., Suite 1663, San Francisco, CA 94105. California Financing Law License 6054788. Visit earnest.com/licenses for a full list of licensed states. For California residents (Student Loan Refinance Only): Loans will be arranged or made pursuant to a California Financing Law License.
One American Bank, 515 S. Minnesota Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104. Earnest loans are serviced by Earnest Operations LLC with support from Navient Solutions LLC (NMLS #212430). One American Bank and Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
© 2021 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved.
3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.
4 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
Fixed rates from 2.49% APR to 6.94% APR (with autopay). Variable rates from 1.99% APR to 6.59% APR (with autopay). All variable rates are based on the 1-month LIBOR and may increase after consummation if LIBOR increases; see more at SoFi.com/legal/#1. If approved for a loan your rate will depend on a variety of factors such as your credit profile, your application and your selected loan terms. Your rate will be within the ranges of rates listed above. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers, or may become available, such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license #6054612; NMLS #1121636 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). Additional terms and conditions apply; see SoFi.com/eligibility for details. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
6 Important Disclosures for Navient.
7 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 04/07/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.90% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.49% APR – 7.75% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
8 Important Disclosures for PenFed.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 2.89%-4.78% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.13%-5.25% APR. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.