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New Barnes & Noble Education Report Finds Gen Z College Students Grapple with Extreme Stress, Mental Health Challenges

Aug 12, 2019

Seventy-six percent of students deal with mental health issues but only 24% have visited on-campus counseling centers

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Barnes & Noble Education, Inc. (NYSE:BNED), a leading provider of educational products and services solutions for higher education and K-12 institutions, today announced the findings from its “Mental Health & Well-Being on Campus: How We Better Care for the Whole Student” report.

Conducted by Barnes & Noble College Insights℠, the report surveyed college students and parents of current college students to better understand the state of mental and physical well-being among college students today.

The report found that college students are under more stress than ever before – driven by a variety of factors like the current political environment, academic expectations, financial concerns, making friends and more. In addition, the report underscores the role of universities, parents, friends and extended family members to better assist students in addressing mental health issues. The report also cites the perspective from three experts on this topic – Daniel Eisenberg, Ph.D., Healthy Minds Network, University of Michigan, said Victor Schwartz, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of The Jed Foundation and Ron Goldman, co-founder and CEO of Kognito.

“Better understanding the current state of students’ mental health and well-being on college campuses across the country has become a cornerstone initiative for BNED,” said Mike Huseby, CEO of BNED. “Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of discussing this important topic with influential professionals in the field at the ASU+GSV Summit, the top education technology conference. In releasing this report, our goal is to continue this important conversation and provide universities, parents and students themselves with the information and best practices needed to alleviate mental health challenges on campuses nationwide.”

Some of the top findings and trends from BNED’s report include:

  • Gen Z is at high risk for dealing with mental health challenges while at college . According to the report, roughly three-fourths (76%) of students say they have experienced mental health issues such as significant stress, anxiety and depression. These issues are more prevalent among women and first-generation students. Among students who report mental health issues, 89% report high levels of stress, 86% experience anxiety and 66% experience depression. That said, it’s important to note that mental health challenges don’t necessarily hinder students from achieving academic success. “A lot of students still manage to do well in classes despite struggling with mental health issues. But research from the Healthy Minds Study shows that when students have high levels of mental health problems (like depressive symptoms) they are about twice as likely to depart the institution before graduating,” said Eisenberg.
  • Academic performance, tuition payments and political issues weigh heavy on students. Getting good grades (79%) and balancing different areas of their lives (74%) cause the most stress for college students. Parents agreed, with 79% of parents rating this concern as a “4” on a scale of 1-5 where 1 is not stressful at all and 5 is extremely stressful. On a positive note, academics are where students are also most likely to feel fulfillment. Seventy-nine percent say they feel the most fulfilled by pursuing a major they are personally interested/passionate about (79%).
  • Campus resources – such as counseling centers – are underutilized . While 85% of students who responded to the survey said their school provides resources for mental health/student well-being, only 24% have used these resources. This finding shines a light on why universities may want to consider offering additional options like courses on adjusting to college, health and wellness programs and student-led support groups. At the same time, “It’s important to keep in mind: A lot of college mental health facilities are seeing between 15 and 25% of the student body, which doesn’t sound so out of line with what the need might be. Remember, some people are getting support from other places, like from resources at home,” said Schwartz.
  • Parents contribute significantly when it comes to ensuring student success and mental well-being . Despite stereotypes about “helicopter parents” being prevalent even for college students, BNED’s report found that most parents are moderately involved in their children’s academic lives. In examining specific ways in which they are involved, most parents (93%) said they provide financial support – such as paying tuition and/or room and board – and offering emotional support such as when their child is homesick. In addition, most parents believe the stigma around mental health has decreased in recent years – and many feel comfortable having open conversations with the children about managing stress and other mental health challenges. And these conversations – whether it’s with parents, faculty members or friends – make a difference, according to Ron Goldman, co-founder and CEO of Kognito. “Conversations play a critical role in building coping skills, social connectedness, and motivating those in need to seek help. While these conversations can be difficult, they are necessary. It is therefore critical that mental health initiatives at universities and colleges go beyond building awareness of the impact of psychological distress and begin to train and empower their faculty, staff, and students with the confidence and communication skills to seek help and effectively approach those in need to provide support and motivation to connect with available help.”

To access the full report, click here. For more information on Barnes & Noble Education, visit:

Survey Methodology
Barnes & Noble College Insights℠ conducted an online quantitative survey among 762 college students and 1,708 parents of current college students to better understand the state of mental and physical well-being among college students.

About Barnes & Noble Education
Barnes & Noble Education, Inc. (NYSE:BNED)
is a leading provider of higher education and K-12 educational products and solutions. Through its Retail segment, Barnes & Noble Education operates 1,448 physical and virtual bookstores across the U.S., serving more than 6 million students and faculty. Through its Digital Student Solutions segment, the Company offers direct-to-student products and services that help students study more effectively and improve academic performance, enabling them to gain the valuable skills necessary to succeed after college. Through its Wholesale segment, the Company operates one of the largest textbook wholesale distribution channels in the United States. For more information please visit

BNED companies include: Barnes & Noble College Booksellers, LLC, MBS Textbook Exchange, LLC, BNED LoudCloud, LLC, Student Brands, LLC, and PaperRater, LLC. General information on Barnes & Noble Education may be obtained by visiting the Company's corporate website:

Carolyn J. Brown
Senior Vice President
Corporate Communications & Public Affairs
(908) 991-2967

Source: Barnes & Noble Education, Inc.

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