College students are seeking counseling for depression and anxiety in such record numbers that schools are struggling to keep up and offer timely help.
More disturbing is that students who are seeking treatment are increasingly likely to have attempted suicide or engage in self-harm, according to a 2017 report by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health.
The annual report, which looks at data from more than 400 college and university counseling centers states:
- From 2010-2015, visits to a college counseling center grew 30 percent while enrollment increased by 5 percent.
- Anxiety and depression were the common reasons for the counseling visits.
- Self-harm and suicide attempts continued to increase for the seventh year in a row
The increased student demand and “flat funding” for more counseling have overtaxed treatment centers, the report said. Students with “threat to self” characteristics are a partial reason for the increase, using 20 to 30 percent more services.
This results in a longer intake wait for other students, a waiting list, and a two-to-three week gap between appointments.
The Penn State report makes the case that mental health treatment is effective, but rapidly rising demand could lead to colleges making short-term solutions that short-change students’ health. Ben Locke, executive director of the Center for Collegiate Mental Health said:
“This growing demand includes the full range or risk, need, diagnoses, and many other factors that can make it difficult to define policies that work. Sometimes, the pressure to identify short-term solutions under pressure can result in overly simplified or rigid approaches that inhibit the potential positive effects that counseling center treatment has to offer.”
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