College Students’ Psychological Problems Increase
In a 2002 national survey, more than 80 percent of 247 directors of counseling centers said they thought the number of students with severe psychological disorders had increased over the previous five years. In addition, a study conducted at the counseling center of Kansas State University found that between 1989 and 2001, the percentage of students treated for depression and the percentage of suicidal students doubled. More than two times the percentage of students are taking prescription medications for their mental health issues.
The study was based on forms filled out by therapists after treating more than 13,000 students between 1989 and 2001.
Other findings showed that problems related to stress, anxiety, learning disabilities such as attention deficit disorder, family issues, grief, and sexual assault increased also. More traditional complaints from college students; separation from home, romantic relationships, and career choices likewise increased.
The lead author of the study, which is the largest of its kind, is, Dr. Sherry A. Benton. She is the assistant director of training at the counseling center in Manhattan, Kansas. Dr. Benton, referring to the study, stated, “What we are seeing is people with multiple problems, and some of those are significantly more serious”.
Mental health professionals at other colleges across the United States said the study established their belief that students are struggling with more serious issues and distress than in the past.
Dr. Benton and her colleagues cannot cite a clear reason for the dramatic increase. However, there are contributing factors to help explain this phenomenon. One such contributing factor is the greater awareness of mental illness coupled with the easing of the stigma attached to seeking therapy.
Jon Daily, LCSW, CADC II