By Halona Black
October 30, 2018
- Two new studies demonstrate increased concern over mental health issues on college campuses across the country. The research is showing that students are not more sensitive, but rather they are experiencing real trauma that needs to be addressed by the college community.
- One study of more than 700 introductory psychology students at Arizona State University early last year found that one-quarter had "clinically significant event-related distress" as a result of the 2016 election, The Washington Post reported. Rates were higher among women, racial and sexual minorities, lower-to-middle-classes, Democrats and non-Christians.
- Inside Higher Ed, meanwhile, reported on a study of academic and news articles that connected most student mental health challenges to race, violence and sexual assault. Many students are not taking advantage of the mental health resources available on campus, the researchers found, while some colleges have scaled back their traditional offerings.
The number of students seeking services from campus mental health counseling centers increased by 30% to 40% between the 2009-10 and 2014-15 academic years while enrollment grew less than 6% during the period, according to a report from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health.
Anxiety and depression were among the most common reasons for student visits to counseling centers, while visits spurred by suicide attempts or consideration as well as nonsuicidal self-injury have been increasing in recent years, the report found.
In 2014, the University of Michigan implemented an embedded model of care, fashioned after programs at Northwestern University and the University of Iowa. At Michigan, the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) model places counselors in 12 schools and colleges so they become a part of the campus culture. The university reported a 17% increase in demand for counseling services the year CAPS launched.
The University of Minnesota's Boynton Health Service, which offers a holistic outreach program to make its services known to students, has recently expanded its group therapy options amid an increase in demand, according to the Minnesota Daily, a student newspaper. It increased its group therapy options from three to six this semester.
Even as more students seek mental health services, there often is still a gap between those receiving the services and those that need them. In particular, research has found that African-Americans are 20% more likely than other groups to experience severe mental health issues, yet only one-quarter seek mental health support. That's compared to 40% of whites who do.
A history of prejudice and discrimination in the health care system as well as socioeconomic factors that make treatment unaffordable are among the reasons for the discrepancy.
Colleges can play a critical role by stepping up and addressing the issue in a way that is tailored to the needs and experiences of their campus community.
- The Washington Post: A quarter of college students could develop PTSD because of the 2016 election, a new study suggests
- Inside Higher Ed: Study Plumbs Sources of Students' Pain