A Third of First Year University Students Have Moderate


A Third of First Year University Students Have Moderate to Severe DepressionAnxiety

Risk is associated with increased drug use, but risk is associated with a sense of belonging.

According to the first study of its kind, which was published in the open access journal BMJ Open, over a third of first-year university students have or experience moderate to severe anxiety and/or depression.

The results suggest that people without mental health difficulties at the beginning of their course are more likely to have significant levels of anxiety and depression by the conclusion of their first year if they use prescription (but not prescribed) and illegal drugs more frequently.

But socializing and participating in student organizations, societies, and sports teams is associated with a decreased risk of manifesting severe symptoms as well as a faster recovery for those who present with depression and anxiety symptoms at the beginning of their course.

A Third of First Year University Students Have Moderate

According to the experts, the peak era for the formation of mental diseases, the majority of which begin in young adulthood (75%) coincides with the transition to university life.

The most prevalent of these illnesses are anxiety and depression, also referred to as “internalizing disorders” since they are internalized and frequently involve melancholy and loneliness.

The purpose of the study was to identify factors that may predict recovery in university students who arrive with mild to moderate anxiety and/or depressive symptoms as well as factors that may indicate the emergence of these symptoms in first-year students who did not already exhibit anxiety or depression.

The survey responses of a representative sample of first-year students enrolled in a sizable, publicly funded research university in Kingston, Ontario, Canada in 2018 were used by the researchers.

A Third of First Year University Students Have Moderate

The survey, which was distributed twice in March 2019 and September 2018—two weeks into the first term—and two weeks before the commencement of the exam period—examined variables previously linked to students’ academic achievement and mental health.

Additional details on additional potentially influencing factors were provided by respondents, including parental education, early hardship such divorce and physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, and the lifetime prevalence of mood and anxiety disorders.

While the Social Support Subscale of the Resilience Scale for Adolescents was used to gauge levels of social support, the College Student Wellbeing scale was utilized to gauge students’ sense of belonging to both the university campus and their peers.

At both time points, the students’ usage of alcohol, cannabis, painkillers, opioids, psychedelics, unprescribed stimulants, sleeping medications, and other recreational substances was systematically examined.

A total of 3029 out of 5245 eligible students completed the first round of surveys and tests, or about 58%, while 1935 completed both rounds, or about 37%.

At the beginning of the academic year in 2018,

the respondents’ prevalence of clinically significant anxiety and depressive symptoms was 32% and 27%, respectively. By March 2019, these numbers had increased to 37% and 33%, respectively.

Students with internalizing illnesses at the beginning of their course were roughly 4 times more likely than those without this history to not recover from severe levels of anxiety/depressive symptoms, according to an analysis of the characteristics linked with recovery.

The probabilities of recovering from depression and anxiety increased by 18% and 14%, respectively, for each point higher on this scale that students felt a connection to campus life and their friends.

According to the characteristics that emerged anxiety/depression over the first year, there was a 10% and 6% decreased chance of acquiring anxiety and depression symptoms for every point on the connectivity scale that increased.

However, there was a clear correlation between increased risk and increasing drug use: every 1 point increase in the score, which runs from 0 to 24, was linked to a 16% higher chance of experiencing clinically significant levels of depressive symptoms.

A Third of First Year University Students Have Moderate

Since this study is an observational one, causality cannot be determined. The researchers also note that the results might not be more broadly relevant to other colleges in other nations.

They continue that a variety of interconnected factors, including as biological, psychological, and social factors, have an impact on the development and maintenance of mental health issues.

The availability of clubs, societies, and sporting activities is likely to be crucial in boosting student mental health and wellbeing, the data imply, and they have significant implications for university mental health policies, programs, and practices.

They conclude:

“Students frequently experience moderate to severe levels of anxiety and depression symptoms upon entering university and continue throughout the first year. While drug use seems to increase these risks, being connected to the university may reduce the chance of persistent or emergent symptoms.

A longitudinal cohort research on the first year of undergraduate students’ mental health is cited. BMJ Open, DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-047393, 30 November 2021.

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