October 12th, 2010

Technology and The Mental Health of College Students

mtvU, MTV’s 24-hour college network, The Jed Foundation and The Associated Press revealed the results of a new poll examining college students’ emotional health, their close relationship with technology, and how being constantly connected is affecting their state of mind.

Not surprisingly, technology functions as a critical lifeline for college students with 90% saying they’ve visited a social networking site in the last week, and about four in 10 having over 500 friends on those sites.  Yet, 1 in 7 say that social networking sites increase feelings of isolation.

Nearly 70% report reading posts from someone close to them that seemed like a cry for emotional help, and while most students would offer support in some way, fewer than half would make a personal visit.  Additionally, the consequences of emotional distress in today’s college students is concerning – one in five students have friends who have talked about wanting to end their lives in the past year.

Detailed findings from the 2010 study include:

Seeking Help / Suicide

20% report that they have friends who have talked about wanting to end their lives in the past year, and 9% state that they’ve personally thought about it, demonstrating it’s more important than ever that young people connect with resources to get help.

Friends continue to be the number one resource college students turn to when they need help:

Close to 70% of students say they’ve read something posted online by someone close to them that made them think the person was crying out for emotional help.

In these circumstances, just a little over half report they are extremely or very likely to call the person on the phone to express their concern, 49% say they would reply to the message privately using social networking tools, and four in 10 would pay a personal visit to their friend. Very few would formally reach out to campus officials or contact a national help line (10% and 6%, respectively).

Nearly four in 10 students report they are likely to ask for help with a serious personal issue or let a friend know they are upset with them via text message.

Stress and Happiness

Being stressed is a fact of life on college campuses today.  62% of students say at least once in the past three months they have felt so stressed they didn’t want to hang out with friends or participate in social activities, a stark increase from the 2009 mtvU/AP data (53%).  Additionally, 63% of students say that stress has kept them from their schoolwork once or more in the past few months, compared to 60% in the 2009 mtvU/AP study.

Yet, college students continue to report high levels of personal happiness.  Over 80% of students say they are somewhat/very happy with how things are going in their life in general, compared to just under 75% in the May 2009 study, and 64% in the March 2008 study.

Additional findings from this poll can be found at

About the Author

Ronn Richardson
Ronn Richardson is a young PR professional from NYC who is determined to learn as much as he can despite any barriers that try to hinder him. Eager to see a change in the types of online publications that college students, young professionals and new-school entrepreneurs visit, he conceived Socialtik Mag.



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