Mental health survey finds need for additional mental health services on campus
On Monday evening, representatives from the university’s Counseling Center presented the results from their Healthy Minds Study, an online survey designed to gather a better understanding of student mental health.
The university conducted the survey last April as part of The Healthy Minds Network, a national assessment of mental health among college students conducted across over 50 universities. The goal of the survey is to help direct the future of mental health services on college campuses. According to national statistics provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the rates of serious mental illnesses among young people are on the rise.
Dean of Students Adam Cantley noted that on our campus in particular, he sees an increasing demand for mental health services.
“Students are asking for it, faculty and staff are asking for it, families are asking for it,” Cantley said.
Recently, the primary reasons behind the demand for more mental health services have changed. According to data from the Association of College and University Counseling Center Directors, prior to 2010 depression was the most common presenting concern, but has recently been outpaced by anxiety as the number one reason students are seeking help.
The survey provided insight on the mental health issues that are currently affecting the general population of the university’s students. This information was gathered via self-reported data on a variety of statements rated on a scale of 0 to 4 that correlated to symptoms of mental health issues.
The study found that at the university, there are elevated levels of eating concerns among students compared to students at other universities who participated, with 34% of undergraduates and 37% of graduate students evaluated presenting eating concerns. In the same method, elevated levels of depression were found at a rate of 25% of undergraduate respondents, and elevated alcohol use was reported among 30% of undergraduates.
The survey also collected information on student well-being to determine how many students are “flourishing,” a concept measured by questions touching on topics such as whether or not respondents were feeling optimistic about the future or well-supported in social relationships.
The university’s students had consistent levels of well-being across ethnicities, however, there was a statistically significant difference in levels of reported well-being between males and females, with females found to be “flourishing” at slightly higher rates. Overall, the university ranked in the top 10% of comparable universities when it comes to students flourishing.
According to the survey, students at the university are generally aware of the services provided by Center for Counseling and Student Development (CCSD), with 82% of students surveyed stating that they have some knowledge of the resources available for mental health services on campus. Students also reported that they thought there was a low stigma associated with mental health treatment, as 6% of respondents reported having a personal stigma against people who seek treatment.
CCSD Director Brad Wolgast, expressed a need to respond to the shifting concerns of students and increased demand in the counseling center.
“The same number of clinicians are seeing more students day after day,” Wolgast said.
In response to the Healthy Minds Study and demand from students and faculty, the CCSD plans to continue changing its internal operations. The CCSD is increasing its ability to meet walk-in demand and setting a standard to meet with every student, walk-in or call-in, on that same day.
Cantley said that in order to optimize synergy within the university’s mental health services, there are plans to move the Counseling Center from the Perkins Student Center into Warner Hall. The intention is to have the Counseling Center be nearer to Student Health Services in Laurel Hall, creating a wider space on campus for events to promote wellness, as well as promoting a more discreet location for students to seek help that is not the busy student center.
“The more we can get in front of students and talk about these things the better,” Cantley said.