research article outline



  • Introduction


Disorders of the mind, particularly depression and anxiety have been experienced for thousands of years by humans. Throughout their many names and associations, one country where they have taken an extreme toll on the population in recent years is the United States. It’s widely understood that mental health disorders have the ability to inhibit people from normally functioning in their lives, but what enforces these disorders to come about? Through a meta-analysis, the explanation of how the United States fundamentally has set it’s society up to lead anxious and depressed lives becomes clear as day. One group that amounts to great suffering of these two disorders are the over 17 million college students across the country.( Data has shown the stressors inflicted on college students today is unprecedented. Significant players in the developments of these disorders can pertain to the type of environment student’s grow up around, the utilization of treatment services and don’t forget the massive hormonal shifts experienced during these years of young adulthood. Along with colossal costs and pressures of college, the stigmas around mental health issues and incessant and almost unavoidable social media distractions, there is more than enough reason to believe students in the United States have plenty to be anxious and depressed about. The connection between United States culture and student’s levels of anxiety and depression is evident and supported through experts in the fields of social psychology, psychology and sociology. The culmination of all the societal developments that contribute to depression and anxiety symptoms in young adults attending college can range from age old traditions being abruptly changed to inherent fear of failure. There is a vast landscape of knowledge attributed to how society has the potential to shape mental health, and the United States’ culture is an exhibit A example of direct correlation.





  1. Social constructs- what people grow up around- what they think is normal
    1. men shouldn’t complain about being stressed bc that makes them weak- stigma against mental health
      1. Stigma, the well-documented reluctance by many to socialize or work with people who have a mental or substance abuse disorder, is considered a major obstacle to effective treatment for many Americans who experience these devastating illnesses. It can produce discrimination in employment, housing, medical care and social relationships, and negatively impact the quality of life for these individuals” (Indiana University. (2010, September 16). Mental illness stigma entrenched in American culture; new strategies needed, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 3, 2019 from
    2. The coddling of the american mind : How good intentions and bad ideas are setting up a generation for failure. (2018), Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt argues that safetyism is interfering with young people’s social, emotional, and intellectual development.
      1. Lukianoff, G., & Haidt, J. (2018). The coddling of the american mind : How good intentions and bad ideas are setting up a generation for failure. New York: Penguin Press. (2018). Retrieved March 3, 2019, from PSU Library Database
    3. How society views us- race, ethnicity, gender
      1. Higher levels of anxiety and depression in whites “White respondents were at greater risk to develop generalized anxiety, social anxiety,”
      2. “Results indicated that whites were at elevated risk for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety compared to Caribbean Blacks and African Americans.” (Himle, J. A., Baser, R. E., Taylor, R. J., Campbell, R. D., & Jackson, J. S. (2009). Anxiety disorders among African Americans, blacks of Caribbean descent, and non-Hispanic whites in the United States. Journal of anxiety disorders, 23(5), 578-90.)
      3. Women more likely to report depression/anxiety than men
  2. Excessive work habits, never being good enough for oneself/others
    1. Self depreciation
    2. Emphasis on high paying careers and that they are somehow more important than others (ceo vs school teacher) “if you can’t do, teach” stupidity
      1. “Results indicate greater depression and external locus of control among the offspring of workaholics. Children of workaholic fathers also experienced higher anxiety.” (Robinson, B., & Kelley, L. (1998). Adult children of workaholics: Self-concept, anxiety, depression, and locus of control. American Journal of Family Therapy, 26(3), 223-38.)
  3. Constant consumerism, next best thing, then the next and the next
    1. Unhappy with our current state, always looking for more
    2. “the impact of consumerism in order to assess identity formation and development in youth. Young people are receiving an endless barrage of material messages encouraging purchasing behavior and consumption that impacts the self-image. “ (Hill, J. (2011). Endangered childhoods: How consumerism is impacting child and youth identity. Media, Culture and Society, 33(3), 347-362 )
  4. How american culture reacted to massive industrialization and globalization
    1. “ The united states and its dedication to capitalism, institutionalised permanent upheaval and change. Restless and mobile, it enclosed and settled lands occupied for millennia by others, established an agrarian society and uprooted it in favour of a gigantic industrialism”
    2. “societies are, at best, blunt instruments in the formation of human personality”
    3. “Even the most ‘settled’ societies, fascinated by their own strength or in thrall to doctrines of revelation, show symptoms of psychic instability. For many years, the gun fetish in the USA has caused annual casualties equal to the number of victims of a medium-sized war” (Seabrook, J. (2018). The mental health of societies. Race & Class, 59(4), 54–64.
  5. Unaware of actual health effects from stress


  1. How many people are suffering from mental health issues- wide scale epidemic
    1. “Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.”1
    2. 18.1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and specific phobias.7
    3. in the past 15 years, depression has doubled and suicide tripled,
    4. Among the 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5%—10.2 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness.8
  2. How many students are suffering from mental health issues- acute scale out of the total population
    1. “According to the 2006 American College Health Association Survey, 45 percent of women and 36 percent of men felt so depressed that it was difficult to function.”
    2. “The average age of onset for many mental health conditions is the typical college age range of 18 to 24 years old, said Courtney Knowles, executive director of The JED Foundation
  3. things that contribute to anxiety/depression that college kids experience  
    1. “students experience many firsts, including new lifestyle, friends, roommates, exposure to new cultures and alternate ways of thinking,” said Hilary Silver,
    2. “If students do not feel adequate or prepared to cope with the new environment of a college campus, they could easily become susceptible to depression and anxiety,” said Harrison Davis, Ph.D.
    3. caffeine and excessive drinking attributed to higher chances of depression and anxiety two huge players in american university life.
      1. A report from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University found half of all full-time college students binge drink, abuse prescription drugs and/or illegal drugs, and almost 1 in 4 of the nation’s college students (22.9%) meet the medical criteria for substance abuse or dependence. (
  4. Not accessing services available to them due to stigma, lack of mental health  education etc
    1. “Nationally, an average of only a little more than 11% of students sought the mental health services that were available to them.” (
    2. This cover story titled “Selling Shyness” (1999) by Michelle Cottle from the New Republic Journal argues that neglected anxiety disorders are reason for social phobia in American society. (Cottle, M. (1999). Selling Shyness. (Cover story). New Republic, 221(5), 24–29. Retrieved from
    3. “students also might not seek help because of concerns over confidentiality and finances and the fear that accepting they’re struggling will mean they can’t lead a productive life.”


  1. New environments lead to new successes and issues nonetheless
    1. , and when these unprepared kids go to college a whole new world of experiences await them.   Seaman’s purpose is to illustrate how “isolation, sexual confusion, date rape, stress, and emotional problems” all contribute to the mental health of students.
      1. Seaman, B. (2005). Binge : What your college student won’t tell you : Campus life in an age of disconnection and excess. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons.
  2. Cost of college is not even fathomable to some- kids having to work two jobs to support their education while also attending full time college classes
    1. Emotional outbursts are common, too involved and too stressed out
    2. Disappearance of middle class, parents now don’t have the money to send their kids to college. Leaving the kids with thousands of dollars in student loans with no hope to pay them off.
    3. Compare stats between student suicides in USA to UK
      1. united kindgom statistics 8.7  out of 100,000 people for those 18-24
      2. united states 13.2 out of 100.000 people for those 15-24
    4. The suicide rate among young adults, ages 15-24, has tripled since the 1950s and Suicide is currently the 2nd most common cause of death among college students.”  (
  3. Having to always be “connected” due to the insane prevalence of social media in our lives
    1. greatly shifted over the last 20-30 years with the rise of technology
      1. Need for immediacy, instant answers, and information has developed our generation into a bunch of impatient and overcompensating kids  
    2. “social media contacts that are not known in person are attributing to depressive symptoms. The authors claim that because social media contacts are largely not known on a face to face basis, this is reason for depression because of the lack of personal connection”
      1. (Ariel Shensa, Jaime E. Sidani, César G. Escobar-Viera, Kar-Hai Chu, Nicholas D. Bowman, Jennifer M. Knight & Brian A. Primack (2018) Real-life closeness of social media contacts and depressive symptoms among university students, Journal of American College Health, 66:8, 747-753, DOI: 10.1080/07448481.2018.1440575)
    3. In fact, another study found that social media use is linked to greater feelings of social isolation. -
      1. (Social Media Use and Perceived Social Isolation Among Young Adults in the U.S. Primack, Brian A. et al.American Journal of Preventive Medicine , Volume 53 , Issue 1 , 1 – 8)


The claim that American society directly connects to anxiety and depression in college students can be supported in depth through careful research within this report. It is evident that the environment students grow up in influence their perceptions on mental health and all the societal stigmas that come attached to it.  (insert data gathered here). There is no question that the prevalence of students accessing the resources that are available to them plays a key role in determining their success with combating their mental health issues. Treatment services for mental health issues need to be even more widely available than they are today, but what needs to change the most is how we as a society view mental health issues as a whole.  The massive shifts in lifestyle and all the hormonal changes that come with young adulthood are a perfect cocktail for anxiety and depression to thrive. The evidence proving these how shifts in lifestyle can inspire excessive drinking and caffeine consumption further increases the chances of university students developing depression and anxiety as well. College students naturally are attracted to excessive alcohol binging and caffeine through cultural norms. College students find it normal to stay up all night studying or drinking just the same, both incredibly unhealthy for their mental stability. Although the monumental costs of college have now developed into a cultural norm, it too has inevitably matured into a key player in students levels of anxiety and depression. Overworked and overcompensated young people can be seen as at a high risk for suicide as well as it is the second leading cause of death among college students in this country. Although many of our generation most likely view social media personalities as positive, studies have shown that excessive use of social media, especially connecting with those we have no personal connection to, can play a massive role in elevating depression and self isolation in college students. Constantly being attached to social media can lead to detachment and unhealthy formation of habits like sitting and mindlessly scrolling for hours. Addiction and withdrawal are two very real consequences of excessive social media use and can contribute to higher levels of depression in young adults. In retrospect it’s simple to make a determination about how college kids around the country are very clearly suffering from anxiety and depression due to how our society has been structured around us.

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