Issues of mental health and overall wellness are often overlooked by many college students. Between adjusting to new surroundings, registering for courses online, and meeting new people, students may simply feel they don't have time to acknowledge their problems. This oversight could also be partially due to the fact that the stigma of “mental health issues” is so highly correlated with having an extreme, diagnosed mental illness. However, this really shouldn't be so. Like any other aspect of life and health, appropriate awareness (followed by any necessary action) is crucial for overall wellness.
The student bodies of universities today are more diverse than ever before, and the emotional and mental health issues among those students are also more varied. While common issues discussed in school-operated counseling services were once primarily feelings of homesickness, stress, and depression from social circumstances or grades, issues frequently addressed in counseling offices today are often much more severe.
Currently issues of suicidal tendencies and substance abuse are taking their place in a long line of other serious mental health problems. The National Survey of Counseling Center Directors has found a marked increase in severe psychological problems over the last decade. Common mental health issues noted in this survey include eating disorders, alcohol abuse, on-campus sexual assault, and self-inflicted injury patterns. The reasons for the prevalence of such psychological problems are speculated to be just as varied as the student populations themselves.
The demand for on-campus counseling centers has increased as well, with many universities reporting at least a 50 percent increase in counseling services (in both number and duration of appointments) in the past several years. However, some may argue this drastic increase in the use of counseling services for serious mental issues is not as much related to new problems within the student body as it is to greater willingness to be open about such issues. In fact, some have suggested the trend of increased diagnosis could largely be due to changing perceptions and clinical impressions, rather than actual verified evidence through more detailed psychological exams.
While this increase in the use of counseling services may prove that students are actually more readily taking advantage of such resources, many scholars believe the number of students suffering from mental and emotional problems is still greater than even the use of counseling services indicates. The negative social stigma attached to seeking therapy often prevents students from taking advantage of on-campus counseling services or attending activities related to mental health. However, if all students were made aware of the fact such mental and emotional issues were actually commonly experienced by many of their peers, they might be more willing to seek help, as knowledge of the frequency of the issues could help counteract the negative stigma attached to them.
About the Author: Marina Salsbury planned on becoming a teacher since high school, but found her way instead into online writing after college. She writes around the Web about everything from education to exercise.