BUFFALO, N.Y. - Breaking the stigma when it comes to mental health is the mission of a public awareness campaign addressing mental illness. Mental health and college students is a topic we don't often hear about in our communities.

The stress of college and going away can put some young people at more risk of mental illness because they aren't around their support system, according to Karl Shallowhorn, Director of Community Advocacy for the Mental Health Association and Compeer.

"75% of all mental illnesses occur by the age of 24," and Shallowhorn said drugs and alcohol increase the risk.

• Stress, anxiety and sleep difficulties are the top life issues that American college students say affect their studies

• 67% of college females, 47% of college males reported experiencing overwhelming anxiety in the past year


Maria Pascucci, author and founder of Campus Calm is a Canisius College graduate who now considers herself "a recovering perfectionist." She recalls a panic attack before a final exam. "I was one of those high achieving college students very anxiety-ridden."

She said many attach their self worth to their grade point average and feeling like a failure if they don't score an A.

According to the American Health College Association, over half of female college students rate academics as traumatic or very difficult to handle.

Pascucci speaks at student leadership conferences and empowerment events. Her advice, "let go of the unrealistic pressures to be perfect and manage the anxiety."

There are many resources to get help and assistance.

LetsTalkStigma.org