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Amid High Levels of Stress, Anxiety, 2024 Thriving College Student Index Reveals Ways Students Stay on Top of Mental Wellness

January 22, 2024
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Giving Back Student Experience
At American Campus Communities, we’re committed to nurturing our residents’ mental wellbeing. Listening and learning are key to helping students thrive. So, as a founding member of the College Student Mental Wellness Advocacy Coalition, we’re excited to support the second annual Thriving College Student Index—the largest national benchmark survey of college students’ mental health. 

We’ll use the survey findings to shape our continuing mental wellbeing programs at ACC communities. We’ll also work with our partners at the Hi, How Are You Project and the Coalition on initiatives across the student housing industry.


Coalition of student housing providers to leverage survey data from 25,000 college students to better understand and support student mental wellbeing


JANUARY 22, 2024. AUSTIN, TX - The second annual Thriving College Student Index Report was released today on Hi, How Are You Day and at a time when half of all mental illnesses begin by age 14 and suicide is the second cause of death in young adults.*

This second annual report summarizes the results of a survey, fielded in the U.S. in October 2023 by world leader in research, Ipsos, of nearly 25,000 college students residing in the communities managed by members of the College Student Mental Wellness Advocacy Coalition, which consists of 24 student housing companies.

Conducted in partnership with the mental wellness non-profit, Hi, How Are You Project, with support from The Jed Foundation (JED), the report reveals that while college students feel stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed, this year’s results show improvement over last year including:

  • Stress: 65% down from 70%,

  • Anxiety/worry: 57% down from 63%, and

  • Being overwhelmed: 57% down from 61%.

Instances of feeling “happy” increased by five percentage points over the last year, from 50% to 55%, and nearly two-thirds of students surveyed say they have felt “thankful” all the time or often, over the past month before they took the survey. Like last year, listening to music (82%) remains the number one behavior students engage in to destress followed by socializing with friends (67%).

The report categorizes college students as Thriving, Maintaining, or Struggling,** based on their current mental health status and outlook on the future.

Learning from Thriving Students - Interpersonal Connection is Key

Thriving students (79%) are more likely to socialize than Maintaining (55%) and Struggling (28%) students and they regularly practice healthy behaviors such as getting fresh air, good sleep, and healthy eating to feel their best. They are more likely to feel thankful (79%) and happy (76%) and are less likely to feel stressed (53%) anxious/worried (44%), overwhelmed (44%) or lonely (14%)

Struggling and Maintaining students feel much more lonely, anxious, and overwhelmed than Thriving students. By looking at these stark contrasts and by learning about what Thriving students do to feel their best, we can share practices and habits as a guide to promote mental wellbeing among all three student categories,” said Dr. Sonia Krishna, a board-certified physician specializing in child, adolescent, and adult psychiatry, and a Hi, How Are You Project board member. “While there is also a large disparity between Thriving students feeling thankful and happy when compared to Maintaining and Struggling students, it is encouraging to see an overall 5% uptick in happiness and that two-thirds of students feel thankful because a single act of thoughtful gratitude can increase happiness and reduce depressive symptoms.

Connectedness to Residential Communities

  • One in four students surveyed feel a strong connection to their residential community saying it is their “home away from home.”
  • Seventy-four percent acknowledge that opportunities to socialize within their residential communities are abundant, but many (41%) are not sure if residential communities can support their mental wellbeing.
  • More than half (53%) of those who are non-binary or prefer to self-describe their gender say they have little or no connection to their residential community.
  • When asked how residential communities can support mental wellbeing, the majority of open-ended responses suggested hosting events and opportunities to engage with others.


“As student housing providers, we are committed to supporting the wellbeing of our residents, and want to learn directly from them about how they’re feeling and the behaviors they engage in to support their mental health,” said Jonathan Bove, leadership committee chairperson, College Student Mental Wellness Advocacy Coalition. “Drawing from the insights we’ve gleaned from this report, our next step is to provide our residents and team members greater access to information on mental health resources and implement programs that increase opportunities for socializing and more connected and supportive conversations that begin with ‘Hi, how are you?’”

Where to Turn for Help

  • Friends (90%) are the most utilized source students turn to for information about mental health, followed by the Internet (83%) and then parents (77%).
  • When it comes to finding professional help, just over half of survey respondents (56%) say they could find a mental health professional that understands their background and 46% say they could easily fit mental health treatment into their schedules if needed.
  • About half of college students (52%) have received mental health treatment from a mental health professional and 1 in 6 have done so on campus.


"It's essential to equip teens and young adults with the necessary skills and supports to protect emotional health and reduce suicide risks," said John MacPhee, CEO, The Jed Foundation. “Peer-to-peer learning and social connectedness can be effective ways for young people to help themselves and to help others. The Thriving College Student Index report offers valuable insights to help residential communities—and college systems as a whole—play a pivotal role in supporting students on the path to thriving, not just today, but tomorrow.”


This year’s Thriving College Student Index report can be found at

*Center for Disease Control & Prevention. (2023, April 25). How Common Are Mental Illnesses?

**Survey respondents were asked to rate their current lives on a scale of 0- 10, where 0 represents the worst possible life and 10 represents the best possible life. Thriving students rated their current life as 7 and higher and their future life as 8 and higher. Maintaining students rated their current life between 5 and 6, and their future life between 5 and 7. Struggling students rated their current life 4 and below and their future life 4 and below. Leveraging this time-tested approach based on the Cantril Scale for life evaluation, most respondents fell into one of the three groups based on their responses. (Note, not all students fell into one of the three subgroups. Rather, they are included in the total respondent/student population group throughout the report.)


About the College Student Mental Wellness Advocacy Coalition

The College Student Mental Wellness Advocacy Coalition is an alliance of the nation’s top student housing providers who advocate for student mental wellness through encouraging open conversations, providing resources, and developing industry-wide peer-to-peer staff training programs, in partnership with mental wellness non-profit, Hi, How Are You Project. Since its founding in 2022, the Coalition continues to expand its reach and impact as it envisions a world where all young adults thrive thanks to the support of their residential communities that are dedicated to promoting and advocating for mental wellness to facilitate personal fulfillment and academic success.

About the Hi, How Are You Project

The Hi, How Are You Project (HHAYP) is an Austin, TX-based 501c3 nonprofit organization with a mission to remove the stigma around mental health, one conversation at a time. The organization aims to educate people worldwide about the importance of mental health and wellbeing while promoting a culture of inclusion.

About The Jed Foundation (JED)

JED is a leading nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. We’re partnering with high schools and colleges to strengthen their mental health, substance misuse, and suicide prevention programs and systems. We’re equipping teens and young adults with the skills and knowledge to help themselves and each other. We’re encouraging community awareness, understanding, and action for young adult mental health.
Connect with JED: Email | X | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | LinkedIn | Snapchat | Pinterest | TikTok

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