Campus demand for mental health services increases

Worries about finding a job after graduation and the economic crisis are just a few of the reasons why more students are seeking help from the university’s mental health center, a university official said.

Linda Wolszon, director of Counseling, Testing, and Mental Health services at the counseling center, said the number of counseling appointments has increased about 8 percent since this time last year, and the number of walk-in appointments is up about 16 percent from this time last year.

The busiest time for the counseling center is around midterms when students are burdened by the stress of doing well on exams, Wolszon said.

According to a survey conducted by the American College Health Association in fall 2007, about 8,000 of the 20,507 college students who participated said they had been diagnosed with depression in the past 12 months. The 2007 survey also reported that 51 percent of students reported feeling that things were hopeless one to 10 times during the past 12 months.

“Lately, we are seeing students who want to talk about a parent losing his or her job and graduating seniors with anxiety about finding jobs,” Wolszon said.

Wolszon said psychological and psychosocial problems are the most frequent causes of derailment of students’ academic careers.

Since 2005, the counseling center has hired three additional staff members. The center now has five staff members, and there is a counselor on-call every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to assist students who do not have an appointment with crises and urgent care, Wolzon said.

Wolszon said last year 65 percent of clients reported depressive symptoms and 45 percent reported cases of anxiety, both of which have remained about the same this year.

She said the center advertises its services in a number of ways including presenting information to students in residence halls, fraternities and sororities and athletics. Wolszon also said students are referring other students.

“More and more frequently we hear students tell us ‘I came because my friend, roommate, RA, etc. was worried, and they told me they had been there before and it was helpful,'” Wolszon said.

Wolszon said starting last year, counselors are attending every orientation session to inform new students and parents of their services because part of the job is to promote students’ mental health and well-being.

“If we ever manage to convince the population that seeing a counselor is no more shameful than seeing your family doctor when you have a fever, society will be better off,” Wolszon said.