The MHC College Student Mental Health Toolkit is designed to equip college students with the resources, services, and support needed to thrive as they transition into the beginning of adult life. Inside this toolkit, you will find key background information on college students’ mental health as it stands in 2023. You will also find tips for students on maintaining their mental health and well-being and advice for fostering mental health awareness on every college campus. Our aim is to provide students with digestible, accessible information to support their mental health journey and overall college experience. 


Mental Health of College Students

The college experience provides a unique setting for young adults to continue their education and foster their personal growth and independence. Without the same level of supervision from parents, college students are presented with the opportunity to live with more freedom. With this newfound freedom can come new challenges. College students are one of the most vulnerable populations when it comes to mental health concerns. Although campuses have resources and programs tailored to their student body, students do not always know about them or seek them out. According to a 2019 study by the Healthy Minds Network, 53% of college students had not heard anything about the quality of counseling services on their campuses. 

Who We Are

The Mental Health Coalition is a group of passionate influential organizations, brands, and individuals who have come together to end the stigma surrounding mental health and transform the way we talk about mental illness.



Mental Health and Academic Achievement

A few facts about how academic performance may be impacted by mental health:

Common student mental health conditions — such as depression and anxiety — are strong predictors of negative academic outcomes (GPA). 

Students who screen at-risk for depression are twice as likely to leave college without graduating. 

At the same time, mental health does not discriminate based on GPA; high-achieving students often fly under the radar when it comes to mental illness, given that faculty, parents, and peers often assume that their high grades indicate stable mental health.

The Impact of COVID-19

COVID‐19 has taken a dramatic toll on college students’ well‐being. Based on a 2020 survey conducted by Active Minds, 20% of college students say that their mental health declined as a result of the pandemic. 

48% of college students experienced financial setbacks as a result of the pandemic. 

For more information about COVID-19 and mental health, view MHC’s COVID-19 Mental Health Resources.

What are the barriers to seeking help?


Mental health problems are highly stigmatized for people of all ages. College students in particular may worry about their reputation, fearing judgment from peers or faculty for displaying symptoms of a mental health disorder. 

When it comes to mental health issues facing BIPOC individuals, distress may be increasingly exacerbated due to a structural lockout of resources and cultural attitudes towards mental health awareness. The Mental Health Coalition compiled a list of BIPOC Mental Health Resources for students in need of additional resources. 

Since mental health impacts all aspects of life, it also overlaps with gender and sexual identity. For LGBTQIA+ specific mental health resources, check out MHC’s Roadmap to LGBTQ Mental Health.  


College campuses have very limited clinical services and mental health personnel for their students. This is often a result of insufficient funding. Insurance limitations, too, prevent students from seeking the services that are available on campus as many student health plans provide minimal mental health care. 


Most students and parents have minimal knowledge about how and where to get help, especially if mental health care isn’t something a student’s family has experience with.



Don’t wait to seek out mental health support. There are resources available on and off campus, whether you’re in crisis or just want to talk to someone.

On Campus

Search online for your college’s counseling services, operating hours, and locations

Confide in a trusted professor, especially if your schoolwork is being affected

Talk to your dorm’s Resident Advisor (RA) if you have one — they’re there to help

Reach out to trusted peers about your feelings — they may be going through something similar

National Resources

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline — Call or text 988

Crisis Text Line — Text ‘COALITION’ to 741741

TrevorSpace — an affirming, online community for LGBTQ+ people 13-24 years old


How to implement Mental Health Awareness on YOUR Campus

The student population is the lifeblood of the college community. It is often the students who push for change, who endeavor to make the necessary shifts in campus environments, who influence policy. As such, MHC recognizes the importance of student-led organizations and student leaders in mobilizing change and social justice awareness on campus, and seeks to lay out methods of mental health action that take into consideration the importance of student involvement.


Share your story. If you’re comfortable sharing your journey about mental health with your community, it may help others feel safe opening up to you about their own struggles. Posting about mental health awareness on your social media is another great way to normalize these conversations! 



Learn to support a friend. If a friend feels comfortable sharing their mental health journey with you, learn how to better support them with the Mental Health Coalition’s Roadmap to Friends Supporting Friends


Connect with student leaders. Reach out to student leaders of mental health organizations on campus. These people may be looking for more help in their organization. Student leaders are also great people to collaborate with on any new mental health projects.


Work with faculty and staff. Ask your professors how they’re participating in mental health conversations in classroom settings. If they’re not, offer your thoughts on how they can watch out for their students’ mental health. Request that they include information on campus mental health resources in their syllabi, to ensure all students see information about resources available to them.


Organize a Q&A. Invite students to write in their anonymous questions about college mental health. Partner with a school counselor or psychology professor to answer these questions, either at an on-campus event or through a video shared with students via email.


Amplify mental health action in Greek life. If you or someone you know is connected to Greek life on campus, brainstorm ways to create conversations about mental health within that social sphere. For example, someone could organize a workshop for different Greek life groups about how Greek life impacts mental health and how students can improve their overall wellbeing. 


Join or start an Active Minds chapter on your campus to lead discussion groups and programs about mental health. 



Check out the Mental Health Coalition’s searchable Resource Library database for information and tools about a variety of mental health conditions and populations.

Resource Library

Below is a list of additional mental health resources for college students: 

Bring Change to Mind

Bring Change to Mind is a nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging dialogue about mental health. 

The American College Health Association

The American College Health Association is a nationally recognized, long running survey of college student mental health to help people understand and access the most recent youth mental health research.


10 Top Online Therapy Picks for 2022 by Healthline provides insight into the best online therapy services of 2022. 


A List of Hotlines You Can Contact When You Need Help by VeryWellMind includes information about mental health hotlines to call depending on your needs. 


Go Ask Alice!

Go Ask Alice! allows people to ask questions anonymously about general health and other topics, including relationships, sexuality, sexual health, emotional health, fitness, nutrition, alcohol, and drugs. 


The Body is Not an Apology

The Body is Not an Apology is an international movement committed to  increasing self-acceptance and body empowerment. 


This toolkit was authored in 2022 by The Mental Health Coalition’s college interns who are passionate about making mental health a comfortable topic of conversation for young people: Zoey FitzGerald Kidwell; Ashlee Bonsi; Sequoia Ahren; and Julitta Scheel.

Reviewed by the MHC Research Team: Naomi Torres-Mackie, Ph.D.; Khyia Ward, M.Ed., LAC; and Anna Marie Fennell, M.Ed., MHC-LP.



If you or a friend need urgent assistance, call 911 immediately, or take your friend directly to the emergency room. If you feel it’s safe, stay with your friend, or find someone to stay with them until help arrives.

Call 911


You are never alone. Help is always available. For immediate support 24/7, reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting COALITION to 741741, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. It’s free and it’s highly confidential, unless it’s essential to contact emergency services to keep you or your friend safe.


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