One-Third of College Students Are Overwhelmed By Stress.

Nicole Stearman remembers the morning well. Around 10:30 a.m., just as her research methods class at Eastern Washington University was finishing up, she felt an abrupt sense of terror and shortness of breath. It was the start of a panic attack — not the first she’d experienced — and she knew she needed immediate help. Stearman headed straight to the university’s counseling and psychological services center.

When she arrived, she learned there were no counselors available, so she left and found a corner of the building to ride out the rest of the attack. “I can’t really time my panic attacks to hit only on weekdays during the center’s 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. counselor walk-in hours,” says Stearman, who’d been diagnosed with depression and social phobia/social anxiety disorder in high school. “While the counseling center is a great resource, it could be a lot better.”

Stearman is one of an increasing number of students who struggle with getting treatment for their mental health issues in college. About one-third of U.S. college students had difficulty functioning in the last 12 months due to depression, and almost half said they felt overwhelming anxiety in the last year, according to the 2017 National College Health Assessment, which examined data from 125,000 students from more than 150 colleges and universities.

Other statistics are even more alarming: More than 30 percent of students who seek services for mental health issues report that they have seriously considered attempting suicide at some point in their lives, up from about 24 percent in 2010, says Pennsylvania State University psychologist Ben Locke, PhD, who directs the Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH), an organization that gathers college mental health data from more than 263 college and university counseling or mental health centers.

“Those who have worked in counseling centers for the last decade have been consistently ringing a bell saying something is wrong, things are getting worse with regard to college student mental health,” Locke says. “With this year’s report, we’re now able to say, ‘Yes, you’re right.’ These are really clear and concerning trends.”

Psychologists are stepping in to help address these trends in several ways. Researchers are examining the effect of mental health on how prepared students are for learning and exploring innovative ways to expand services and work with faculty to embed mental wellness messages in the classroom, says Louise Douce, PhD, special assistant to the vice president of student life at Ohio State University.

“For students to be able to learn at their peak capacity, they need to be physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually well,” says Douce. “Students who struggle are more likely to drop out of school, but by providing services for their anxiety, depression and relationship issues, we can help them manage these issues, focus on their academics and learn new ways to be in the world.”

 

More students, more need

One of the biggest reasons why college and university counseling services are seeing an increase in the number of people requesting help and in the severity of their cases is simply that more people are now attending college.

“One of the things that seems to be going on for colleges and universities is that as access to colleges and universities continues to grow, the population of colleges and universities is moving towards the general population, especially if you combine community colleges as part of that equation. So the level of need for access and the severity of concerns is growing — just like it has been in the general population,” Locke says.

In addition, students who may not have attended college previously due to mental health issues, such as depression or schizophrenia, or behavioral or developmental concerns, such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or autism, are now able to attend thanks to better treatment approaches and new medications. Access to wraparound services and individualized education plans in primary and secondary education have also helped more students graduate high school and qualify to attend college.

But when these young people go to college, such specialized services and accommodations rarely exist. The result is more students seeking help at counseling centers. And college counseling centers report that 32 percent of centers report having a waiting list at some point during the school year, according to the 2017 Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors (AUCCCD) survey.

Unfortunately, even as students want more services, many center budgets remain unchanged or have increased only slightly from years past, the same survey finds. AUCCCD survey data suggest that larger institutions have struggled to attain pre-2008 recession budget levels, reflected in fewer counseling clinicians proportionate to the student body, compared with smaller institutions. The result can be seen in lower utilization rates and large waiting lists. In fact, the AUCCCD survey finds that the average maximum number of students on a waiting list for institutions with more than 25,000 students nearly doubled, from 35 students to 62 students.

At Mindfulness Meditation & Hypnosis we help students of all ages overcome anxiety. College students that are overwhelmed by being away from home and suffering panic attacks. High School and Middle School students who can’t cope with the pressure. 

We do in-person sessions in our Babylon Village office, as well as facetime and skype sessions for students who are living at college.

If you’d like to discuss how we can help with coping, relaxation and organizational techniques, call or text Lou with any questions.

 516.658.4149   

Mindfulness Meditation & Hypnosis, 206 East Main Street, Babylon Village

OR Click here to go to our website: Mindfulnesstrainingny.com