College is a mix of excitement, challenges, and, of course, a bit of stress. But what if you're told that for some students, it can be even more stressful, especially if they're not the same race as most of their peers?
According to a recent study from the University of Georgia, depression and anxiety are increasingly concerning issues among college students, particularly when it comes to students who don't belong to the same racial group as the majority of their peers.
The research reveals that non-majority race students at a white college experienced significantly higher rates of depression compared to their white mates.
While over half of non-white students in the college reported feeling mildly depressed, another 17% felt moderately to severely depressed.
However, all students at the college, no matter their race, reported feeling similar levels of anxiety. And more than three out of five said they experienced mild to severe anxiety.
Surprisingly, students at a historically Black college who weren't Black also experienced a high level of anxiety and depression.
According to Janani Rajbhandari-Thapa, an associate professor in UGA's College of Public Health, this highlights the importance of fostering inclusivity and prioritizing mental health in college environments.
Higher rate of depression among first generation college students
The research also took a closer look at first-generation college students, those who are the first in their families to attend college. And it turned out that they felt the weight of depression, no matter which college they went to.
Most of them reported mild symptoms, and contrastingly more than half of first-generation students at the predominantly white university experienced moderate to severe levels of depression.
Rajbhandari-Thapa, having been an International and first-generation student says "...experiencing college for the first time in your family comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities, and it is important that the university faculty and staff work towards addressing the challenges.
"There are training and workshops in the workplace, but we need to do more to help new college students feel at home."
The COVID-19 pandemic compounded these mental health challenges, particularly for college students who missed out on essential social interactions due to safety measures.
For many, these additional stressors led to more anxiety and depression. Female students were largely affected compared to their male counterparts.
More on the research here.
How can we combat these mental health challenges among college students?
So, what's the solution to these mental health challenges in college?
The researchers found that making college a place where everyone feels welcome and included is super important.
When students feel like they belong, it can help them feel better.
This goes for students of all races and those who are the first in their families to go to college. Everyone needs a little support sometimes, and colleges should do their best to make everyone feel at home.
Janani Rajbhandari-Thapa mentioned earlier stresses the significance of recognizing the unique needs of diverse student populations and urges the University authorities to work toward a more inclusive and supportive college environment.
In a nutshell, college can be a thrilling yet challenging time for students.
If you’re a student currently feeling the weight of depression and anxiety crushing you, I want you to know there’s help waiting. You don’t have to go it alone. Get in touch now with a mental health specialist near you.