Why Are More College Students Seeking Help for Mental Health Issues?
College campuses are seeing record numbers of students seeking mental health treatment according to recent research. The Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH) reports that between 2009 and 2015 the number of college students visiting mental health counseling services rose by over 30%.
“This data rings very true to us here at Pasadena Villa Outpatient Center-Raleigh,” says Executive Director, Susan Clifton. “Over half of the individuals in our program are in college or planning to go back to college. Many of these students tend to place extra high achievement standards on themselves which fuels their anxiety and may lead to depression if they fail to meet them.”
Why are students seeking help?
While college is supposed to be one of the most exciting times in a young adult’s life, many things can contribute to and trigger mental health issues. This graph from the ACHA survey illustrates the top concerns by students during the 2016-2017 school year.
Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health concerns. According to 2017 survey by the American College Health Association (ACHA) of more than 63,000 students at 92 schools, 40% of college students suffered from depression the prior year, and 61% felt overwhelming anxiety.
Low levels of anxiety are common for many people. However, for many college student’s anxieties interferes with their daily lives and causing an immense amount of stress. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the US today and affect 40 million adults over the age of 18, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADDA).
Common symptoms of anxiety disorders may include:
- Feelings of stress and apprehension
- Trouble concentrating
- Sweating and dizziness
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular heartbeat
- Muscle pain and tension
- Frequent upset stomach or diarrhea
Symptoms for depression vary for each person, and while there are similarities, how someone reacts is determined by how they handle change, where they are in their lives and their predisposition to depression. Common symptoms include:
- Physical Well-being Symptoms:Changes in sleep habits, whether sleeping more or — more frequently — difficulty sleeping. Appetite changes, including either a loss of appetite or overeating
- Emotional Symptoms:Sadness, feelings of being overwhelmed, feelings of hopelessness, and feelings of powerlessness
- Thinking Symptoms:Seeing a glass ‘half-empty,’ having trouble concentrating and paying attention, resulting in difficulty in reading and completing work tasks
Identifying severe depression or anxiety in college students can be difficult, as they will often downplay symptoms or avoid talking about their feelings.
What help is available?
Over 75% of all serious mental illnesses began by age 25, meaning colleges play a vital role in addressing mental health issues early, and many are increasing their resources devoted to mental health.
- North Carolina State uses “TAO” or Therapy Assisted Online to increase access for students who otherwise may not seek help face-to-face. TAO is an interactive program that provides support for depression, anxiety and other common concerns using educational videos and building coping skills to increase resiliency.
- North Carolina Central University has struggled to meet the increasing demand for campus mental health services. This past summer ninety staff members were trained and certified in “mental health first aid” with the goal of getting students the help they need sooner to prevent the issues from becoming more severe.
- Virginia Tech University now has several satellite counseling clinics open to reach students where they spend the most time, such as above the local Starbucks, in the athletic center, and in the graduate student center.
- During the 2016-2017 school term, Ohio State University increased the number of mental health clinicians and launched a mobile app that allows students to make appointments, access breathing exercises, listen to positive playlists, and contact counselors in case of an emergency.
On average, many campuses are dedicating more resources to mental health, including the addition of rapid-access services such as walk-in appointments and crisis treatment. However, specialized treatment is still lacking in many areas.
At Pasadena Villa Outpatient Center-Raleigh we specialize in treating adults (18 years or older) who struggle with various mental illnesses including but not limited to depression, anxiety, bipolar illness, psychotic disorders and adults on the autism spectrum with a co-occurring mental health diagnosis. Our treatment programs provide a supportive environment to discover ways to recognize and manage psychiatric symptoms. We offer two levels of care that empower clients to practice new self-management strategies, in real-time to promote independence and autonomy.
- Our Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) is the most intensive outpatient level of care. It serves as a preventive program to hospitalization if the psychiatric condition is identified early enough and a solid bridge that helps people step down out of hospitalizations or residential treatment programs.
- Our Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) allows individuals who are experiencing emerging mental health issues to gain a solid foundation before stepping down into traditional outpatient services or provide the added support when current treatment is not frequent enough to foster meaningful improvement.
Our diverse psychotherapy groups, facilitated by licensed therapists, include process groups, experiential therapeutic activities, expressive arts therapy, skill building, psychodrama as well as other complimentary evidenced-based modalities. Our psychotherapy groups are grounded in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectal Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Clients also participate in individual sessions, family meetings, and psychiatric evaluations as determined by their clinical needs.
“Our programming addresses anxiety and depression head-on in our Self-Compassion group. Other groups teach and practice skills that empower individuals and make them more resilient to life’s stressors. At our monthly Alma Mater group, it is wonderful to hear how our graduates are not only successful in school, but they are enjoying their journey as well,” shares Susan.
If you or someone you love is struggling with mental health issues and need professional help, call us today. We have created an environment that focuses on your unique goals, and we are dedicated to helping you create a life worth living based on your value. We understand that people are not a diagnosis, people are a mixture of all that has happened and their future journeys.