College campuses need more mental health resources, survey suggests

College campuses need more mental health resources, survey suggests

Depression and anxiety disorders have become common mental health issues almost all over the world. People of any age, gender or financial background can suffer from these debilitating mental disorders. A recent survey involving more than 10,000 students from 13 two- and four-year institutions in Washington concluded that there is an urgent need for on-campus mental health services for students, particularly in the wake of two bills under consideration of the state legislature to fund the resources for suicide-prevention in higher education and providing additional mental health counselors for veteran college students.

It was the first annual online survey, known as the Healthy Minds Study, held to evaluate the mental health status of college students. The students were randomly chosen from 13 different public and private colleges that included Seattle University, Whitworth University, Central Washington University, Lake Washington Institute of Technology, University of Washington Seattle, UW Bothell, UW Tacoma and Washington State University. Data for the study was taken from the 2016-17 academic year.

Study findings

Evaluating the mental health status of students in higher education was the objective of the study, created at the University of Michigan in 2007. Participants were asked relevant questions on mental health, like if they had experienced any form of depression or anxiety, whether they ever had suicidal thoughts or attempted suicide and sought help from a counselor.

The Healthy Minds Study concluded:

1. Approximately 31 percent students reported to have experienced an episode of depression in the past two weeks and around 14 percent reported major depression.

2. Around 26 percent students said that they had experienced some form of anxiety.

3. 12 percent reported to have undergone suicidal thoughts, approximately 5 percent said they had a plan to end their life.

4. Out of all those who had experienced major depression, severe anxiety or suicidal thoughts, approximately 60 percent had sought treatment during the previous year.

5. Approximately 76 percent said they had faced some sort of academic difficulties due to their emotional or mental health issues in the past four weeks.

Need for better mental health support on campus

Ellen Taylor, UW associate vice president for Student Life, said that such data acts as a foundation for college campuses to develop plans for mental health support to students. These plans must be at par to their needs and experiences. It is not that all the students need counselling, but making this information available can be helpful in guiding prevention and education efforts.

“We want to help students develop healthy coping skills, resilience in the face of disappointment and life challenges, and enough awareness to know when they need help. The JED program provides a solid framework for analyzing the data, determining next steps for each campus based on local and national trends, and the ability to measure impact down the road,” Taylor added.

Dealing with anxiety

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