College freshmen say they’re stressed, depressed

An annual survey of college freshmen suggests their emotional health has dropped to its lowest level in 25 years.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, surveyed more than 200,000 students.

Fifty-two percent rated themselves as “above average” in mood, down from 64 percent in 1985 when the survey began.

Celina Gray leads the New Jersey Governor’s Council on Mental Health Stigma. She travels the state speaking with college students about coping skills and mental health issues.

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She said students worry about their own financial security — and their family’s financial troubles, too.

“Their home life, their home environment has more challenges, and they bring that to school and that impacts their emotional and mental health,” she said.

Gray says many young people today are more inclined to seek treatment compared with youth of the past.

Some mental health experts say the freshman survey may reflect a greater awareness among young people of the mental health trouble signs.

Gray said many young adults hit a road block when they tell a parent they might be struggling with a mental illness.

“Parents, in many cases, just tell them it’s growing pains. We know that parents do love their children, but in so many cases it’s the stigma that’s associated with mental illness that has parents not wanting their child identified as somebody living with a mental illness,” Gray said.

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