Mental Health Resources on College Campuses
For many students, college is a stressful experience. A large workload, stress from student loans and the unique pressures that come with living away from home for the first time can lead many students to experience depression or anxiety.
More than a fifth of students said their academic performance was impacted in the last year by anxiety, and 16 percent were impacted by depression, according to the National College Health Association. Left untreated, such issues can have serious consequences. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among 20- to 24-year-olds, according to the National Data on Campus Suicide and Depression.
For students who have been diagnosed with a mental illness or believe they could experience increased anxiety and stress, ensuring a college has the correct facilities for them is crucial. That means making sure counseling center and student health centers on campus have the right features to meet an individual student’s needs.
Before arriving on campus, students should check the hours the center is open and what they will need to do to sign up for an appointment with a counselor. At some universities, it is necessary to pay before seeing a counselor, or a fee kicks in after a certain number of sessions.
Students also might want to ask if the counseling center is accredited by the International Association of Counseling Services, which has a set of standards centers must meet before being approved by the organization. Students who want psychiatric services should also check to see if those are available — about a third of colleges and universities do not offer them, according to information collected by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health.
Universities also might have clubs and groups that focus on mental health or help students relax and avoid stress.
If a student is planning to live in a residence hall, they should inquire into how resident advisers in the dorms are trained to handle mental health issues. RAs are meant to be a resource for students to turn to and are often the first point of contact, but not every university trains RAs in the same procedures.
If a student is attending college far away from home and has been diagnosed with a mental illness, they might want to consider finding a professional off campus. Because of an increase of students using counseling centers on campus, some centers have been stretched thin in terms of how many students they can serve and when.