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Diagnoses, Treatment of Mental Health Conditions Up in College

Highest odds ratios seen for anxiety, panic attacks, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

sleepy teen in school

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 31, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Among college students, self-reported diagnoses and treatment of mental health conditions are increasing, according to a study published online Oct. 24 in the Journal of American College Health.

Sara B. Oswalt, M.P.H., Ph.D., from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and colleagues used data from 454,029 American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment participants from 2009 to 2015 to examine changes in diagnoses/treatment for 12 mental health conditions. Hierarchical binary logistic regression was conducted to control for demographics and to consider time.

The researchers found that with the exception of bipolar disorder, bulimia, and schizophrenia, time was significant, with increases noted in all conditions other than substance abuse. The highest odds ratios were seen for anxiety, panic attacks, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (odds ratios, 1.68, 1.61, and 1.4, respectively). Over time, there were also increases in use of mental health services at students' current institutions (odds ratio, 1.3) and willingness to use services in the future (odds ratio, 1.37).

"We don't know that the college environment is causing or even contributing to the increase in these conditions, but campuses are going to have to address it. Higher education institutions want students to be successful in college, but if mental health issues aren't adequately addressed, it will make student success more difficult to achieve," Oswalt said in a statement.

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