The school year can get nuts, but more students are talking out their problems with trained professionals.
College students nationwide are utilizing mental health resources more than ever, according to the Healthy Minds Study, an annual survey of college students. The study also found that the severity of issues is increasing, reporting more depressed students than previous years.
With more resource-seeking students, the demand for more therapists, psychologists, trained professionals and counselors is on the rise. Ninety percent of college counseling services are seeing more students and students with more psychological issues, according to the study.
National Alliance on Mental Illness Media Relations Associate Christine Armstrong said the Psychiatric Times recently published an article which emphasized the latest higher education crisis: many students, not enough support.
“The demands on services have dramatically outpaced the capacity and rate of growth of available mental health care systems,” reported the Psychiatric Times in an Oct. 10 article.
While UC Davis has recently been through a flurry of budget cuts and furloughs, students are worrying if specialized services for depressed, bipolar or emotional and stressed students will be the next thing to go. Dr. Dorje M. Jennette, Counseling And Psychological Services (CAPS) psychologist and stress and wellness clinic coordinator, has seen an increase in psychological services over the past eight years – and maintains these services are still needed.
“As the need for mental health resources continues to grow and as financial stress continues to strain wellness, this is no time to cut funding to mental health resources on campus,” Jennette said.
Since 2001, CAPS has seen many more students come through their doors in North Hall, east of the Quad. Between July and October 2009, 1,426 UC Davis students visited CAPS while during the same period in 2001, 584 students visited CAPS, Jennette said.
In proportion to the student body, UC Davis students coming to CAPS for help went from about 8 percent in 2002 to 14 percent last year, he added. The inflated numbers, however, mean more than just a larger student body.
Other Davis resources are being utilized as more students need places to go for psychological help. The House, across from the Student Housing office and the ARC parking lot, provides free counseling services with trained peers.
Emily Wang, the House outreach coordinator and senior psychology and human development double major, and Ty Canning, training coordinator and senior psychology major, both have seen more students stop by for the House’s free services and to talk about issues ranging from relationships and schoolwork to general stress.
“Every week, frequency has been slowly increasing,” Wang said.
Talking with peers is usually something students like most about the House, Wang said.
“[Peer counseling] allows them to keep whatever issue they are having at a more relaxed level,” she said. “When seeing a trained professional, it’s more intimidating.”
Although more students are reporting mental health issues, free services at the House are still not reaching full capacity.
Yoga, meditation and massage chairs are also available to students at no cost.
“When you come in, there’s a general vibe of acceptance,” Canning said. “Once you come in, you don’t have a problem opening up.”
SASHA LEKACH can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.