Mental Health of College Students and Their Non–College-Attending Peers Results From the National Epidemiologic Study on Alcohol and Related Conditions

  • Blanco C
  • Okuda M
  • Wright C
 et al. 
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Context: Although young adulthood is often character-ized by rapid intellectual and social development, college-aged individuals are also commonly exposed to circum-stances that place them at risk for psychiatric disorders. Objectives: To assess the 12-month prevalence of psy-chiatric disorders, sociodemographic correlates, and rates of treatment among individuals attending college and their non–college-attending peers in the United States. Design, Setting, and Participants: Face-to-face in-terviews were conducted in the 2001-2002 National Epi-demiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (N=43 093). Analyses were done for the subsample of college-aged individuals, defined as those aged 19 to 25 years who were both attending (n = 2188) and not at-tending (n=2904) college in the previous year. Main Outcome Measures: Sociodemographic corre-lates and prevalence of 12-month DSM-IV psychiatric disorders, substance use, and treatment seeking among college-attending individuals and their non–college-attending peers. Results: Almost half of college-aged individuals had a psychiatric disorder in the past year. The overall rate of psychiatric disorders was not different between college-attending individuals and their non–college-attending peers. The unadjusted risk of alcohol use disorders was significantly greater for college students than for their non–college-attending peers (odds ratio=1.25; 95% con-fidence interval, 1.04-1.50), although not after adjust-ing for background sociodemographic characteristics (adjusted odds ratio=1.19; 95% confidence interval, 0.98-1.44). College students were significantly less likely (un-adjusted and adjusted) to have a diagnosis of drug use disorder or nicotine dependence or to have used to-bacco than their non–college-attending peers. Bipolar dis-order was less common in individuals attending col-lege. College students were significantly less likely to receive past-year treatment for alcohol or drug use dis-orders than their non–college-attending peers. Conclusions: Psychiatric disorders, particularly alco-hol use disorders, are common in the college-aged popu-lation. Although treatment rates varied across disor-ders, overall fewer than 25% of individuals with a mental disorder sought treatment in the year prior to the sur-vey. These findings underscore the importance of treat-ment and prevention interventions among college-aged individuals.

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  • Carlos Blanco

  • Mayumi Okuda

  • Crystal Wright

  • Deborah S Hasin

  • Bridget F Grant

  • Shang-Min Liu

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