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The Mental Health Crisis on College Campuses

One topic I’m very passionate about is the crisis we are experiencing in mental health with our young adults. As I speak to your high school and college students, I always ask, “Who here feels stressed out?” and almost every single hand goes up. In a 2014 Psychology Today article, they state, “It is neither an exaggeration nor is it alarmist to claim that there is a mental health crisis today facing America’s college students. Evidence suggests that this group has greater levels of stress and psychopathology than any time in the nation’s history.” I’m afraid things haven’t improved.

When I attend counseling conferences, this is the biggest topic with university counselors saying they can’t get a handle on the epidemic. Students are waiting, on average, 3 weeks to get in for their first visit to a counselor and they normally only can see a student 2-3 times. That isn’t fast enough and anyone will tell you nothing can be accomplished in three sessions. Students have become so frustrated, Stat News reported college students are launching petitions to get faster and more comprehensive services.

When deciding on a campus that is right for your young adult, make sure you ask the probing questions that are important to your young adult’s individual needs. Transitioning to college is one of the biggest stresses they will experience to date. If they need resources, make sure you are asking:

  • What is the counselor to student ratio

  • What is the average time it takes to get in to see a mental health professional

  • How long will they be able to be serviced

  • And what options exist for off-campus providers

Besides the new environment and assimilating to a new “norm”, young adults want to know what they are going to do with their lives. This is why they are going to college and I’m amazed at how many continue to not have formal career exploration. Giving them answers to who they are and what they are good at is truly the best investment you will make in the confidence your young adult needs as they fly on their own.

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