College students’ mental health needs overwhelming their schools

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Experts attribute the rise in student seeking mental health to a fading stigma, social media fueling anxiety and worry in the wake of mass shooting. Pictured: A student attaches a note to the Resilience Project board, which lets students know that it is OK to struggle on the campus of Utah Valley University, in Orem, Utah

There was a time when a college education was a sign of privilege and getting a healthy start in life, but so many of today’s college students are turning to their schools for help with anxiety, depression and other mental health problems that schools are overwhelmed and some students wait for weeks for treatment.

Social media and fear of mass shootings have been counted among the causes, although it cannot be ignored that increasing numbers of students become extremely agitated by statements and opinions with which they do not agree.

The number of students seeking treatment has nearly doubled on some campuses over the last five years while overall enrollment has remained relatively flat, according to an Associated Press review of more than three dozen public universities reported by Mailonline.com.

Universities have expanded their mental health clinics, but the growth is slow at many of them, and demand keeps surging. 

The long waits are concurrent with student suicides, which, in turn, have provoked protests at schools from Maryland to California. Meanwhile, campus counseling providers suffer from low morale and burnout as staffers face increasingly heavy workloads.

‘It’s an incredible struggle, to be honest,’ said Jamie Davidson, associate vice president for student wellness at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, which has 11 licensed counselors for 30,000 students.

The rising demand for campus mental health care has been attributed to an array of factors including a fading stigma and social media fueling anxiety. 

Mass shootings, and the fear they spread, have also been suggested as a factor. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, saw an increase in demand following a 2017 shooting at a nearby county music festival that left 58 people dead and hundreds wounded.

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