The number of college students struggling with mental health issues is increasing at a rapid rate.
According to the American College Health Association’s National Health Assessment, over 70 percent of college students reported feeling depressed in the past year, and 61percent reported feelings of “overwhelming anxiety.” The study comes after a steep increase of students going to their college counseling centers.
While getting help for anxiety or depression isn’t a bad thing, higher numbers of people having it is a concern.
The increase in anxiety and depression is tied to an increase in workload for many students. In college, many students take on jobs or extracurricular activities while balancing difficult classes and basic self-care like sleeping. Nelly Spigner, a Division I soccer player at the University of Richmond told Time that being on the pre-medical track and playing DI sports have left her exhausted and over-stressed.
“It almost seems like they’re setting you up to fail because of the sheer amount of work and amount of classes you have to take at the same time,” said Spigner. “…You’re expected to do so much,” commenting on the pressure she feels from her parents, friends, professors, coaches, and the school itself.
In an attempt to get help, Spigner sought counseling from her school. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had a tough time balancing medications, therapy, and her intense school schedule. Spigner ended up taking a leave of absence from school.
But Spigner isn’t alone in her struggle for good mental health at college. Schools like Ohio State University and Pennsylvania State University have been allocating more resources for mental health counseling to keep up with the increased demand. Still, students slip through.
According to The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors Annual Survey, there is only one mental health counselor for every 1,737 students on average. As a result, therapists are struggling to effectively help students, and are spread too thin. But nobody is denying this reality, as college counselors themselves are concerned about the lack of resources they can offer students who need help.
Ben Locke, director of counseling services at Pennsylvania State University, says that they only have the time and personnel to focus on crisis situations, leaving students like Spigner fall through the cracks, according to STAT news.
“You’re making sure people are safe in the moment,” Locke said. “But you’re not treating the depression or the panic attacks or the eating disorders.”
For students who feel depressed or anxious, therapy is the best place to get help. When a college can’t provide the proper resources, there are other options to get help. Some students are finding comfort in virtual therapy through places like Talkspace. But even online options can’t necessarily make up for the lack of access to mental health resources on college campus.