Number of US college students seeking mental health support doubled in past five years, says study

Number of US college students seeking mental health support doubled in past five years, says study
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More and more college students in the US are seeking help from their schools on matters of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues but they have to wait for a long time to get treated. A review by the Associated Press that covered over three dozen public universities found that on some of the campuses, the number of students seeking mental health treatment nearly doubled over the past five years, even while the overall enrollment remained largely flat. According to the findings, the rise in mental health issues is because of the reducing stigma around mental health and the rising instances of depression and other disorders. Besides, social media and mass shootings have also added to their mental stress.
It has been reported that the universities have also expanded their mental health service but it is struggling to keep pace with steeply rising demand. 

Counseling staff under stress

The worst part is that the long queues have seen students committing suicide and that in turn has led to protests in schools - from Maryland to California. The high demand is even leaving the staff members at the counseling centers exhausted. 

“'It's an incredible struggle, to be honest", Jamie Davidson, associate vice president for student wellness at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, was quoted as saying by AP. The university has 11 licensed counselors for 30,000 students. 

“It's stressful on our staff and our resources. We've increased it, but you're never going to talk to anyone in the mental health field who tells you we have sufficient resources.”

The AP sought five years of data from the largest public university from each of the 50 states and while 39 gave annual statistics from their counseling clinics or health centers, 11 said they either did not have complete records or had not given records five months after they were requested. 

Between 2014 and 2019, the number of students receiving mental healthcare has grown by 35 percent while the total enrollment rose by just five percent.

One counselor for 4,000 students!

Money is also a problem for many students. On many of the campuses, the students are treated without any fees and that makes things difficult. On some campuses, there is only one counselor for every 4,000 students. In 2016, a congressional bill had proposed new grants for university counseling but it never proceeded to vote. 

The AP study found that budgets for campus counseling have gone up by about 25 percent over the past five years though at differing levels - from over $200 per student on some campuses to less than $40 in other. 


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