By Paige Johnson
The average college student today has the highest levels of stress and psychopathology than any other group of college students in the history of the United States.
So what is psychopathology? It is a way to describe the features of people’s mental health and how it is considered collectively. With this generation of college students, the main focus is stress, anxiety and depression. Studies show that severity of students experiencing these problems only gets worse as they continue on in their college careers with highest levels being reported as a junior.
I think this is a huge problem that is not being addressed. If the average student is experiencing the highest levels of stress ever reported in history, colleges and universities should be doing more to address the issue — especially if the levels of stress continue to grow as the years go on. If anything, stress levels should be decreasing as students advance in their academic careers.
In a survey conducted by the American College Health Association, 30 percent of college freshmen reported feeling frequently overwhelmed. The same survey found that 61 percent of college juniors, both men and women, reported feeling so depressed that it was difficult to function.
Mental health is just as important as physical health, if not more. However, this is not to say that colleges are doing nothing — I know at UT they offer plenty of services but I don’t think there is enough outreach.
If 61% of students at one point felt so depressed that it was difficult for them to function, why isnt anyone noticing or stepping into help them. And how are they expected to reach out to get help if they can barely get out of bed to go to class.
When the students were asked if any of them had considered committing suicide, at least once in a 12-month period, roughly nine and a half percent of all students reported yes.
This is a huge problem, if close to 10% of all students are debating killing themselves due to high levels of stress, anxiety and depression there needs to be a better system in place to identify at risk students and get them help.
I’m from Ithaca, NY, which is the town that Cornell University is located in. The suicide rate was so high from people jumping off of bridges, that the university and the city decided to put in place chain-link netting under all of the bridges so if someone jumps they will be caught and have a second chance for the fire department to save them, or for the jumper to rethink their decision.
This is the problem with colleges and the way they deal with mental health issues. Instead of trying to be proactive and identify the problem before it spreads most of the colleges and universities are reactive.
Here at the UT there are three different avenues to receive help.
There is counseling services which you can sign up using the student health portal through the Dickey Health and Wellness Center. You can schedule counseling sessions that are completely confidential. However, if you are experiencing a situation and need immediate help, it’s difficult to just walk in and receive it.
The university also has various areas in which they specialize in, in order to get students help in the most beneficial way. You can find the various resources on their website at http://www.ut.edu/counseling/resources/.
I think this is one of the most beneficial services the university provides in regards to mental health. More often than not, people that are struggling with mental health issues aren’t given the right kind of treatment because schools are under-staffed and have one person that deals with everything.
By having people that specialize in certain areas, it not only gives students a safe place to go but they can have peace of mind that the person they’re talking to is experienced and has dealt with something similar in the past.
The third and probably best service offered by UT is the student of concern form. An anonymous and safe way to report if you think a student is at risk for any of the issues mentioned above. This form, while it may be under used, helps address the problem of identifying the problem and can potentially save lives.
Paige Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org