What are the most common reasons why students visit an on-campus counseling service?
Over the past few years, anxiety has replaced depression as the number one mental health concern for college students. At the national level, both the American College Health Association and Penn State’s Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH) report anxiety as the number one concern for college students. According to the 2017 CCMH report, which surveys 500 university and college counseling centers representing 161,014 unique college students seeking mental health services, 23.3 percent report anxiety and 18.8 percent report depression as their main mental health concerns.
Can a college counseling service treat mental illness?
The national average of students who utilize mental health services is 12 percent (Luther sees roughly 14 percent of enrolled students). Due to the high level of utilization, most smaller colleges are only able to provide relatively short-term counseling as compared to treatment services. Like many colleges and universities, Luther often refers students to local services for more in-depth needs and psychiatric services.
Why would a student choose to see someone from on-campus counseling vs. going to a clinic/hospital with a concern?
Luther’s counseling service works hard to reduce barriers to accessing services. For example, it does not bill insurance or have session limits. Students can access services on an as-needed basis.
Because it’s a campus service, Luther’s counselors understand the academic setting and can assist with navigating college life unlike off-campus providers. And they can influence campus response to mental health issues based on what they know students need.
Luther’s counseling service also provides outreach and prevention education to reduce stigma and support coordination between on-campus resources. The office offers support to resident assistants and peers who are supporting friends on campus through Mental Health First Aid, suicide gatekeeper training, and other related resources.
How can students can stay mentally healthy at college?
Come to college with a plan in mind. If you have accessed counseling services in the past, find out what services are available on campus. Also keep in mind that transitions are not a time to change or stop medications that have been helpful in the past. Plan to work with your provider(s) to help with this transition. Be aware, too, that helpful coping skills you have used throughout your time at home might not translate well to college life, so be flexible and learn about new skills. It’s a good idea to manage and renavigate expectations. And always ASK FOR HELP, which happens to be the most important tool in your toolbox. If you can seek help, you have a better chance of being successful.
Know that suicide continues to be the second leading cause of death for traditional college-age students. Crisis response help is available both on and off campus for students who are experiencing thoughts of suicide. If you are in need of support, contact 1-800–273-TALK or text the national crisis text line by texting “HELLO” to 741741.