Poor mental health, depression, and associations with alcohol consumption, harm, and abuse in a national sample of young adults in college

J Nerv Ment Dis. 2004 Apr;192(4):269-77. doi: 10.1097/01.nmd.0000120885.17362.94.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Sampling Studies
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology