The aim of this study was to evaluate the coping strategies used by college students and their association with socio-demographic characteristics and distress. The sample was composed of 219 students, who had previously accessed the university counselling service over a 5-year period. The Symptom Checklist-90-Revised, the General Health Questionnaire-12 and the Brief COPE Inventory were administered. Results showed that male students tended to use more active strategies than female students and that students studying health-related subjects presented less distress than those studying technical subjects. Moreover, the results indicated that the self-blame coping strategy is a major predictor of mental health issues and that interaction between age and area of study aggravated the symptomatology. Further research is needed to better understand the experience of distress from the college students’ perspective, and to identify what interventions are really effective in supporting students to cope with distress.