Text mining mental health reports for issues impacting today's college students: Qualitative study

Fay Cobb Payton, Lynette Kvasny Yarger, Anthony Thomas Pinter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: A growing number of college students are experiencing personal circumstances or encountering situations that feel overwhelming and negatively affect their academic studies and other aspects of life on campus. To meet this growing demand for counseling services, US colleges and universities are offering a growing variety of mental health services that provide support and services to students in distress. Objective: In this study, we explore mental health issues impacting college students using a corpus of news articles, foundation reports, and media stories. Mental health concerns within this population have been on the rise. Uncovering the most salient themes articulated in current news and literature reports can better enable higher education institutions to provide health services to its students. Methods: We used SAS Text Miner to analyze 165 references that were published from 2010 to 2015 and focused on mental health among college students. Key clusters were identified to reveal the themes that were most significant to the topic. Results: The final cluster analysis yielded six themes in students' mental health experiences in higher education (ie, age, race, crime, student services, aftermath, victim). Two themes, increasing demand for student services provided by campus counseling centers (113/165, 68.5%) and the increased mental health risks faced by racial and ethnic minorities (30/165, 18.2%), dominated the discourse. Conclusions: Higher education institutions are actively engaged in extending mental health services and offering targeted outreach to students of color. Cluster analysis identified that institutions are devoting more and innovative resources in response to the growing number students who experience mental health concerns. However, there is a need to focus on proactive approaches to mitigate the causes of mental health and the aftermath of a negative experience, particularly violence and sexual assault. Such strategies can potentially influence how students navigate their health information seeking and how information and communication technologies, including mobile apps, can partially address the needs of college students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere10032
JournalJMIR Mental Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Text mining mental health reports for issues impacting today's college students: Qualitative study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this