How is your campus handling mental health?
By Amanda McMahon and Jessica Bonilla
College is often referred to as one of the best times in a young person’s life. However, college is often a challenging time, and it is important to consider the pressure facing students today. Course workload, accumulating debt, holding down a job or internship, and pursuing more advanced degrees can all impact a student’s mental health. Given all of this, it is not surprising that many students suffer from mental health conditions.
From 2009 to 2015, the utilization of counseling centers on college campuses increased by an average of 30-40%[i]. Mental health conditions, particularly depression and anxiety, among postsecondary students in the U.S. have been increasing for decades. Now one-fifth[iii] of undergraduate students experience a mental health condition. As a result, the utilization of mental health services on college campuses would increase. Unfortunately, many students struggle with receiving the care[iv] they need from on-campus services.
Being accepted to college is a major accomplishment, but the application process alone can be stressful. This is just the beginning of one’s pursuit of higher education. With more than half[v] of all high school graduates going on to attend college, it is important to stop and consider that a lack of mental health services will affect millions of college students. Additionally, students may be entering college with pre-existing mental health conditions, possibly due to past experiences or traumas.
Many schools are actively working on improving their mental health services in order to better support all of their students because investing in our students is an investment in our future. Colleges and universities want their students to succeed, this is why schools offer career counseling, study sessions and office hours with professors, and of course mental health services. This issue needs to be a priority on college and university campuses nationwide. Ensuring that students are taken care of, have access to appropriate services and feel supported must be included in the college experience.
[i] Center for Collegiate Mental Health, 2018 Annual Report (University Park: CCMH, 2018).
[ii] “The Condition of Education,” National Center for Education Statistics (National Center for Education Statistics, May 2019), https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cha.asp)
[iii] “The Top 10 Mental Health Challenges Facing College Students Today,” Best Counseling Degrees (Best Counseling Degrees, March 2017), https://www.bestcounselingdegrees.net)
[iv] Angela M. Parcesepe and Leopoldo J. Cabassa, “Public Stigma of Mental Illness in the United States: A Systematic Literature Review,” NIH-PA Author Manuscript (Washington, D.C.: National Institutes of Health, September 2014).
[v] “69.7 Percent of 2016 High School Graduates Enrolled in College in October 2016,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 22, 2017), https://www.bls.gov/)