Helping hand


I know several students who got mental health counseling on campus. What is wrong at our university?

Today’s college students are seeking university counseling services more than any other generation has in U.S. history. So, it is not unusual that several of your peers have done so. Many consider this a favorable trend, because being alone in a battle against anxiety, depression and other concerns can have severe consequences. With 75 percent of all mental health conditions beginning by age 24, college years are critical for understanding and talking about your mental health.

Data collected from 2009 to 2015 from 139 college counselling centers reflects a consistent growth in students reporting depression and anxiety issues. A Penn State University report focusing on over 100,000 college students seeking mental health treatment nationwide reveals a growing conversation about college burnout.

Sleep was a problem for one in eight students, 30% higher than those that reported problems with alcohol and three times the rate of those seeking counselling for drug addiction. Counsellors have consistently claimed an increase in demand for their services. Waiting times for appointments are getting longer which confirms these findings. The problem is compounded by under staffing at campus centers as budgets are usually based on previous figures, explain value based healthcare consulting experts. A discouraging outcome is that many students may end up cancelling appointments if the wait is too long.

Mental health issues are one of the major obstructions to academic accomplishment among college students. A higher likelihood of dropping out and a lower GPA is directly associated with untreated mental health disorders. There is still a stigma attached to it, which prevents more students from seeking counselling.

The statistics are disheartening, National Data on Campus Suicide and Depression reports one in twelve college students makes a suicide plan. More teenagers and young adults die every year from suicide than all other medical illnesses combined and it is the second leading cause of death among college students, reports Our Life Covered. Statistically, 80-90% of college suicides were not receiving help from campus counselling centers. According to the American College Health Association, two thirds of students with problems do not seek assistance.

Counsellors have stated that most people do not realize mental illness is a normal thing to experience, a part of life just as physical illness. People do not have a choice in becoming stressed and depressed but they do have a choice in propagating the stigma.

Half of all serious mental health disorders in American adults start in their teens and three quarters before the age of 25. The college years are a prime time for stress, anxiety and depression to take roots. One major factor to consider is that you are not alone. More than 80% of college students feel overwhelmed at some stage during the year and 45% have thought things were hopeless.

Two thirds of those considering life threatening action do tell friends beforehand. Subtle changes in behavior can also be seen in those with depression so you should be looking out for your fellow students and friends. Lifestyles are busier and college demands are greater than ever, it can all become too much for many but there is help at hand if you seek it out.

When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained… Mark Twain.

Written by Martin J. Young, former correspondent of Asia Times.


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