top of page

Causes for Mental Illness

Video By Nathan Lee

Written by Kalli Cox

Mental Illness Struggles Surround

College Students but What are the Causes?

“My panic and anxiety went through the roof because I did not know how to handle all the change; I felt Isolated. I thought that I was the only person on campus struggling with my mental health.”

Jane Claire Fort, a junior journalism major at the University of Southern Mississippi, sheds light on her experience with mental health when she came to college. Fort emphasized that the various abrupt changes that come with going to college started to become too much to handle. Fort decided to move back to her hometown, Caledonia MS, during her second semester of freshman year.




Although Fort expressed her mental health struggles when coming to college, she explained there was not much the University could have done to help her. Many students at the University and around the United States can relate to this struggle. The causes of mental health issues in college have become hard to ignore today but still, people ask… what are the causes?  

College is a place of change and for many, the transition to a university can be a causal factor alone to students' mental health. Students begin to face financial worries, pressures to succeed, tastes of independent freedom they might not be used to, feeling lonely and the list continues.


The article, “College Student Mental Health Statistics,” by Jessica Bryant and Lyss Welding states that in 2022 around 77 percent of college students experienced moderate to serious psychological distress. 35 percent were diagnosed with anxiety and 27 percent were diagnosed with depression.  

The United States education system is simple. Or so it seems. From an early age, you are taught to go to school to prepare for college. Have a plan when you get into college of what you want your future to look like. Succeed in college. Get a job. For many, success in college is so embedded into their brains it becomes what they focus on.


Students pile their plates with numerous responsibilities when they go to college; so much so that they leave little room for their mental health or even just themselves. Bryant and Lyss noted that 9 in 10 students (89 percent) who face academic challenges encounter a struggle with their mental health.


Amanda Kirtland, assistant director of student counseling services at USM (University of Southern Mississippi), shares that the counseling staff meets with around 1,100 students at USM. Students facing mental health struggles are suffering daily and desperately need all the help they can get whether it be financial support or just someone to talk to.

College is also a place that leads you to new relationships whether it be friends or spouses. Sometimes a student's biggest struggle is dealing with doubtful friend groups or relationships that do not support them. A former student at USM, Rosemary Panella, said that her mental illness battle rose due to “a bad break up and some bad friends.”


Students might not ever know how much impact their friends and relationships they find in college could affect them mentally. Panella’s advice might just be something that saves some students.




“I had to cut out friends who were not supporting me and who were not kind to me, and I sought out friends who did.”

The transition to college can be intimidating for undergraduate students; you are entering a completely different stage in your life. Students may feel unprepared for what is to come, which can cause them various issues later. When students arrive at college, new responsibilities arise.


You are now accountable for going to your classes. You are now responsible for getting your textbooks. You are now responsible to live either on your own or with a roommate. You are now responsible for taking your career into your own hands.


Now more than ever, students are dealing with anxiety, depression, and many more mental illnesses all because of the pressure that college puts on students.

Claire is one of the thousands of students who deal with mental illness every day since being in college. Although mental illness is a different battle for every student, Claire states that by opening her story she met various students that dealt with the same thing.


Sharing one's mental illness can be a challenging thing to do, however, it should be encouraged more than ever. 

“My mental health is something that will never come to an end. It is always continuous,” Claire said.


So why not help students shed light on the topic? The causes of mental illness will most likely increase. The best thing USM can do is help students get through the tough times instead of letting them suffer in silence.

Jane Claire Pic.jpg
Rosemary Pic.jpg
Past Year Prevalence of Any Mental Illness Among U.S. Adults (2021).jpg
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
bottom of page