InTheirOwnWords:APhenomenological ExplorationofStudentMentalHealthand Success inCollegeMegan Callahan ShermanNationalstatisticssuggestthatanincreasingnumberofstudentsareexhibitingmentalhealth symptomswhileincollege. Despite this alarming trend, limited research has beenconducted for the purpose of better understanding the complex dynamics at play forindividuals navi-gating these challenges.Thisphenomenologicalresearchstudyprovidesadescriptiveanalysisofthelivedexperiencesharedbysuccessfulcollegestudentsdealingwithamentalhealth condition. In adopting a strengths perspective that acknowledgesachievement, this explor- atory research serves as a platform for future studies andintroduces several common elements of the phenomena. Five emerging essential themesare defined and discussed: meaning mak- ing, goal setting and purpose, spirituality,reciprocal relationships, and altruism. This investi- gation provides insight into thecommon factors that promote success for college students living with mental healthissues. Studyfindings should be considered when developing inter- vention initiativeson college campuses for these historically marginalized students.KEY WORDS:college success; mental health; phenomenologyating back to Addams and Richmond,social workers have advocated theimpor- tance of access to qualityeducation. Edu-cation is transformational. Knowledge is powerand a college education offers an expanse oflearn- ing experiences. Successful completion ofcolle- giate studies is critical to ensuring long-termfinancial, professional, and social well-being. Ac- cording to the U.S. Department ofEducation, National Center for EducationStatistics(ED,NCES, 2015),“72 percent ofyoung adults with a bachelor’s degree workedfull time, year round in 2013, compared with 62percent of young adult high school completers”(para. 2). In addition to being less likely toencounter unemployment, in- dividuals with acollege degree have substantially higher incomesthan those who have only earned a high schooldiploma or GED (ED,NCES,2015).Given the significant variations in outcomesfor college-degree earners versus the individualswith- out a college degree, it is startling to reviewthe college dropout rate in the United States. Onaver- age, only 59% of college students completetheir four-year program within six years (ED,NCES,2015).Yet,whatisevenmoreconcerning is thefrequency with which mental health plays a rolein college-leaving behavior.According to the National Alliance on MentalIllness (NAMI, 2012), 64% of young adults whoare no longer in college are not attendingbecause of a mental health–related reason. Inaddition, when mental health does not causecollege drop- out, it plays a critical role in theacademic achieve- ment for a significant numberof students. National research reveals that whenasked to reﬂect on the prior academic year, morethan 80% of college stu- dents reported feelingoverwhelmed by study de- mands, and slightlyfewer than 50% of students identified feelings ofhopelessness (NAMI, 2012). Giventhesignificance of these statistics, it is chal- lengingto understand why educational systems have notyetadequately responded to this burgeoningconcern. However, before starting a conversationabout program development and policy initiatives,we must have a better understanding of whatworks for college students living with mentalillness.