College Students Increasingly Seeking University-Provided Mental Health Care
According to a recent piece in the Psychiatric Times, psychiatrists have not been well informed of the mental health challenges encountered on campus as they have historically played only a peripheral role in the majority of college mental health services.
There are currently 17.5 million university students in the United States. Reports from the American College Health Association and the University of Michigan show that in 2006, 8.5 percent of students sought counseling through their school service.
Another 29 percent of students were seen by college-based counselors in other settings. Most notably, visits to university counseling centers rose 42 percent between 1992 and 2002 at 11 large Midwestern universities.
When student reporting was measured, 13 percent of students indicated they had symptoms of anxiety and more than 18 percent reported depression symptoms. Nearly 15 percent had received a diagnosis of depression sometime in their lives, while 25 percent reported problems with their studies as a result of sleep problems.
A full 33 percent had stress-related problems and 43 percent felt so depressed at some point they found it difficult to function. Of reporting students, 10 percent had seriously contemplated suicide, while 1.9 percent had attempted suicide.
Most college clinicians emphasize demands on services have dramatically outpaced the capacity and rate of growth of available mental health care systems. Most services are provided for free and were originally established to help students through a specific developmental challenge or adjustment problem.
As a result, these clinics needed to change their offerings in order to meet the growing need on campus for comprehensive mental health care.