More college students are coping with depression and anxiety disorders now than ever before. While most colleges and universities offer forms of mental health counseling, limited resources and understaffed counseling centers are becoming a problem as college students pour in to be seen for mental health issues.
According to research presented by the American Psychological Association, a recent study showed approximately one out of every four to five students who visits a university health center for a routine cold or sore throat turns out to be “depressed.”
This severe rise in these cases of depression and anxiety in college students may be because more students are coming to college with pre-existing mental health difficulties.
Due to the overwhelming amount of college students using their campus counseling centers, resources are limited for the students with understaffed centers.
Although Vanguard’s Counseling Center has not seen problems of under-staffing or an extreme overflow of students, there has been a recent increase in students’ use of the Counseling Center.
On average, the Counseling Center receives 90 requests to see a counselor each semester. In the Fall 2010 semester, the Counseling Center received a record-breaking high of 160 student requests and saw 91 students per week by appointment.
The Counseling Center only had eight counselors in Fall 2010 and, due to the high number of students, now has 14 counselors on staff for the Spring 2011 semester.
“Here at the counseling center, we practice timely professional care for our students, working hard to meet the needs of our students as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said Beth Lorance, Director of the Counseling Center.
The top five issues for which students seek help are depression, anxiety, relationships, eating disorders and sexuality.
Studies also show that more students arrive at college with mental health issues. A recent survey conducted by the American College Counseling Association discovered that 44 percent of students who visit college counseling centers have severe psychological disorders, which has gone up 16 percent over the last 10 years.
The Counseling Center is the busiest in November and December, right before the holidays, as well as during midterms and finals. Numerous students come in at the beginning and end of each semester with problems related to classes, graduating and other issues.
“Our policy at the Vanguard University Counseling Center is that we honor the students and promise 100 percent confidentiality, unless mandated by law to go to authorities with a major issue,” Lorance said.
The Counseling Center schedules appointments within a week of the student’s call. First, an intake appointment is scheduled to assess the student and to better place the student with the correct counselor to meet his or her needs. Then, within the week, the center will schedule the student with the specialist.
More students are coming into the Counseling Center because students are more aware of their problems and issues than they were in the past. Staff and faculty are constantly referring students to the Center due to the benefits it offers.