College Students Face Transitional Challenges Entering Workplaces

In U.S. colleges, mental health awareness and resources are increasing. But the workplace is less forgiving.


Michaela Chai | Former Intern, Mind Share Partners


This article is also published in Mind Share Partners' "Mental Health at Work" section on Thrive Global.


In the 1980s, one out of 10 college students were in need of mental health resources. Today, one in three students could use support. Universities have responded by encouraging students to fight stigma and take advantage of on-campus therapists and peer support groups. But once students graduate and enter the workplace, they are often faced with silence or an outright negative perspective on mental health. Over one third of employees fear that mentioning mental health will negatively impact their image and career even though one in five Americans will experience a mental health condition in any given year. Moreover, the majority of employees claim that not only does stigma still exist in the workplace, but that it has intensified during the last five years.


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In this article, we follow the student journey from college to workplace, and map out the unique challenges students face during this transition when it comes to mental health, resources, and stigma.


A time of self-discovery, college is also when awareness of mental health conditions increases.


As any sleep-deprived, over-caffeinated college student can confirm, stress pervades college campuses, with up to 80 percent of students reporting that they’ve felt overwhelmed at some point during their college career. However, there is a point when stress can’t be shrugged off as a byproduct of midterms and homework and is instead indicative of a deeper problem.


The American College Health Association’s 2017 study of 63,000 college students found that 60 percent reported feeling overwhelming anxiety, and 40 percent reported depression symptoms so severe that it was difficult for them to function. In fact, 50 percent of of college students rate their mental health as poor overall. This trend is only worsening, as depressive and anxious symptoms were reported by twice as many students in 2017 as in 2008.


All in all,