The purpose of this article was to describe patterns of poor mental health/depression (PMHD) in a national sample of college students and the relationships among PMHD, alcohol consumption, harm, and abuse. Responses to mailed questionnaires completed by a random sample of 27,409 students at 119 colleges were analyzed using logistic regression. Nationally, 4.8% of students reported PMHD. The average college prevalence was 5.01% (range, 0.68% to 13.23%). Students with PMHD were more likely than their peers to be female, nonwhite, and from low socioeconomic status families; less likely to report never drinking; as likely to report frequent, heavy, and heavy episodic drinking; and more likely to report drinking to get drunk. Students with PMHD—especially females—were more likely to report drinking-related harms and alcohol abuse. College is a critical context for studying youth mental health. The interrelationship of mental health problems and their clustering by group and college are important considerations for prevention and treatment.
Department of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA.
Data for this research were collected with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Send reprint requests to Elissa R. Weitzman, ScD, MSc, Department of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Landmark Center, Room 441, 401 Park Drive, P. O. Box 15678, Boston, MA 02215.