Poor mental health prevalent on campus

Boynton’s survey offers valuable information to gauge students’ health across the state.

Thirty percent of students surveyed at the University are overweight, obese or extremely obese, according to a report from Boynton earlier this month. The study didn’t reveal many startling facts about students’ health, but it did offer a measurement of where college students across the state rank in everything from mental health to financial health to tobacco use.

About 10,000 students from 14 colleges and universities in the state returned the comprehensive survey.

One of the highest numbers to come out of the results was that of students diagnosed with a mental health illness. Of the students surveyed, 27 percent said they’ve been diagnosed with a mental health illness. At the University, that number’s about one in four students.

But like a chain reaction when one system fails, when one area of health falls behind, so does another. That area affected by another is usually mental health. Medical experts say financial health and sexual violence can both lead to depression and other mental health illnesses.

In the financial health category at the University, 60 percent of students said they carry more than $1,000 of credit card debt per month.

Boynton’s survey recognized that extra dollars in credit causing stress by tugging at students’ minds can be just as harmful as extra pounds making a heart work harder. Having such debt can lead to depression and poor performance in school.

Experiencing a sexual assault can have similar effects. More than one out of five female students experiences a sexual assault in her life, according to the survey.

For the first time ever, we can gauge where student health in Minnesota stands. The survey offers valuable information that the University, students and health care providers can use to make decisions about funding for specific programs and personal choices.

We all need to take note of where we rank in these health categories to make improvements to our health and well-being.