Depression and anxiety the main concerns. College mental healthcare demand rising
By REBECCA PEARSEY
WASHINGTON, March 29 (UPI) — College students are seeking mental healthcare in unprecedented numbers, putting tremendous pressure on mental health resources of university campuses, experts say.
“There are long waiting lists to get in with counselors and psychiatrists, and it seems like no matter how much we extend ourselves, increase our hours, increase the numbers of our staff, we still can’t get everyone in,” said Miriam Grossman, a
psychiatrist at UCLA’s student healthcare center.
In a recently published audit by the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, the nation’s top schools reported an increase in needing and accessing mental health services. ADAA completed interviews with 83 schools, which were selected using the “U.S. News & World Report Guide 2007” of the top 50 national universities and top 50 liberal arts colleges.
The survey found an average of 23 percent of all students at liberal arts colleges and 12 percent of those at national universities have used the mental health services at their school. And, while 90 percent of national universities think they are meeting the needs of their students, only 60 percent of liberal arts colleges believe they meet the needs of students.
In addition, 60 percent of mental healthcare directors reported a record number of students using their counseling services in a survey conducted by Pennsylvania State University.
“Across the nation there is an increase in the number and severity of mental health issues,” said Jane Morgan Bost, associate director of the counseling and mental health center at the University of Texas at Austin, which has recently expanded due to higher demand.
But others claim universities aren’t the only resource for students.
“No large school can provide everything that students need. It’s just not possible,” said Bradford King, director of the University of Southern California counseling center. In addition to making fewer appointments, USC sends patients to other local providers, because it cannot accommodate the amount of care needed. Unless it’s an emergency, any student needing an appointment will have to wait at least two weeks to be evaluated.
When students are successful in getting care, depression and anxiety seem to be the main concerns. Nearly half of all college students have felt so depressed that they had trouble functioning, according to the American Psychological Association.
The stress of school, lower self-esteem and relationship stress combine to make college students especially prone to depression.
“There are times of year that’s such a crunch — midterms, finals time — that we’re staying late, or working overtime on the weekends in order to accommodate these kids,” Grossman said.
Students also aren’t being asked the right questions when they get into the counseling center, she said.
“The standard questions that are asked of students on their initial visit includes things about sexual abuse, molestation, but not things about pregnancy, STDs or abortions.”
Political correctness has caused overflowing mental health centers to avoid some of those crucial questions, she said. Grossman recently wrote “Unprotected: How Political Correctness Within Campus Health Centers Endangers Every Student,” to reveal errors within university mental healthcare.
Though Grossman blamed universities for avoiding social issues, King doesn’t think politically charged decisions such as abortion influence mental healthcare.
“Regardless of where one is on the political spectrum,” said King, “it’s still a sense of loss.”
What psychiatrists are most concerned about is getting to the problem, even if that means addressing touchy issues, said Bost of the University of Texas.
“I don’t think our psychiatrists have any hesitation.”
Copyright 2007 by United Press International. All Rights Reserved.
Source: Science Daily