Managing a Mental Health Diagnosis in College

Transitioning to college is a pivotal milestone for young adult students, and access to mental health support is crucial.

This article is the third in a three-part series sponsored by Alkermes, Inc. focused on supporting adult students and their community as they navigate mental health concerns. Check out parts 1 & 2 in this series for potential ways to access support throughout the transition to college and recognize some symptoms of mental illness.

As college students hit the books in the fall, health professionals are busy monitoring growing mental health issues in young adults.1 Since the pandemic began, there has been a rise in mental health issues in young adults age 18 to 24 years old, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 2020.2

Another report from the Student Experience in the Research University Consortium found that, of 30,725 undergraduate students screened at nine research universities from May to July 2020, about one third had a serious mental illness.3

While these numbers are concerning, there’s a hopeful message for college students facing a mental health diagnosis: you are not alone. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 75% of mental illnesses develop by age 24. It’s important to understand that a mental health condition is not your fault, and that help is available. In fact, the earlier people seek and attain help, the better.4

Early detection of mental health conditions is associated with more positive outcomes. In fact, according to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), accessing support early on may also lessen long-term disability risks while preventing undue years of suffering.5 This makes it so important to find support for mental health as soon as needed, especially for college students.

If you or a friend are facing a mental health diagnosis, here are some things you may want to consider:

• Find healthcare providers you trust. Healthcare professionals you trust and who understand your situation can help you navigate your diagnosis and treatment journey.6

• Remember, you are not alone. There is an entire community of professionals, advocates and individuals living with mental illness who can help.7 There are many places to get started—consider looking into resources from Mental Health America, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or The Schizophrenia & Psychosis Action Alliance, among others.

• Do what is most helpful to you. Living with a mental illness is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Whether you choose support groups, community resources, psychotherapy, medication or a combination, it’s important to work with your healthcare provider to choose the treatment options that work for you and your unique experience.8

• Keep going. It’s important to remember that getting appropriate care early can improve long-term mental health outcomes.5

To recap, whether you’re working to support your own mental health or helping to support a friend or family member, remember the importance of seeking help as soon as possible and taking advantage of available resources. If you are concerned, consider reaching out to a trusted medical professional in your area or accessing resources such as mental illness screening tools, tools for locating treatment providers and other educational materials.

Click HERE for Part 1 and HERE for Part 2 of this series, which provide more information on the challenges associated with transitioning to college, how that transition may impact a student’s mental health or signs that might indicate it’s time to seek support.

This is intended as informational only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Alkermes does not endorse and is not affiliated with the organizations listed in this article.


1 Anderson G. Mental Health Needs Rise With Pandemic. Inside Higher Education. Published September 11, 2020. Accessed January 3, 2022.

2 Amour M. Suicidal ideation on the rise for college-aged adults due to COVID-19 pandemic. Suicidal ideation on the rise for college-aged adults due to COVID-19 pandemic. Published August 17, 2020. Accessed January 3, 2022.

3 Anderson G. Students reporting depression and anxiety at higher rates. Inside Higher Ed. Published August 19, 2020. Accessed January 3, 2022.

4 Teens & Young Adults. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Accessed January 3, 2022.

5 Mental Health Screening. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Accessed January 3, 2022.

6 Finding a Mental Health Professional. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Accessed January 3, 2022.

7 Mental Health Treatments. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Accessed January 3, 2022.

8 Mental Health Treatments. Mental Health America. Accessed January 3, 2022.

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