Survey finds U students are more stressed out

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 17, 2013 - 10:13 PM

Roommate conflicts and breakups are big health issues.

University of Minnesota students are increasingly seeking mental health services, according to results of a survey released Tuesday.

The findings are part of the school’s 2013 College Student Health Survey, which is taken every three years and was completed by more than 2,000 of the U’s Twin Cities students addressing nutrition, drug use, personal safety and sexual health.

According to this survey, 29.9 percent of students say they’ve had a mental health condition diagnosed in their lifetime, up from 27.1 percent in 2010. The number of those saying they’ve had a mental-health diagnosis in the past 12 months was 14.3 percent — up 3 percentage points from three years ago.

The most common student stressors include roommate conflict, the termination of a personal relationship and the death of a loved one, the survey found. Just this semester, the U’s Boynton Health Service has seen almost a 30 percent increase in new requests for mental health assessments.

The survey also asked students whether they text while driving: 38.8 percent responded never, while 61.2 percent said “sometimes” or more often.

In other areas, the survey found that daily use of tobacco has slipped to 1.9 percent among respondents 18 to 24 years old. That’s down from nearly 10 percent in 1998. At the same time, 15.5 percent say they’ve used marijuana in the past 30 days.

Also on the decline, according to the survey is “high-risk” drinking, defined as having five or more alcoholic drinks in a single sitting within the past two weeks. About 30 percent surveyed acknowledged engaging in high-risk drinking, down from 33.5 percent in 2010 and 36.5 percent in 2007.

“It’s similar to the trend we’re seeing across the country,” said Julie Sanem, director of Boynton’s health promotion. “While this is great news, it’s important to recognize there are negative consequences associated with alcohol use. For example, nearly 20 percent of students report missing a class or performing poorly on a test or project.”

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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