Under pressure: Study reports more than half of college students are seeking anxiety treatment
Anxiety has currently exceeded depression as the most common mental health issue diagnosed among college students. According to a recent study comprised of over 100,000 students across the country, which was conducted by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State, over half of students visiting campus clinics are reporting anxiety as a concern.
Anxiety is often spurred by the perception of an upcoming threat. This feeling can be constructive and drive people to perform better and grow as a person. With some individuals, this feeling can be chronic, overwhelming and interfere with their everyday life. College can be a very stressful time for students. It is a transitional period where many are constantly trying to figure out which direction they would like their future to go, there is constant studying, time management and the academic pressure can sometimes seem insurmountable. Around one out of every six college students have been diagnosed an anxiety problem or are being treated for anxiety within the past year, according to an annual survey conducted by the American College Health Association.
There are often several other factors to consider when looking at the development of severe anxiety in students that fall outside of school. Like with all types of anxiety, there are psychological, physiological and social factors that all play an integral role in the development of an anxiety disorder. These could include an overprotective role by the parents, obsessive-compulsive tendencies or perfectionism. Now more students are feeling anxiety so severe and overwhelming that they require professional counseling.
The University of Central Florida’s Center for Counseling and Psychological Services has seen a large increase in the number of students seeking services, which has risen 15.2 percent over 2015 alone. A counselor at University of Central Florida, Stephanie Preston, has noted that more students are seeking help for mental health problems because the stigma that attached to these conditions has reduced.
Dan Jones, the director of counseling and psychological services at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, says that anxiety has become exemplary of this generation of college students. He notes that some of these issues could result from students who are used to extreme levels of parental oversight and have had less drive to develop appropriate life skills. Micky M. Sharma, president of the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors and head of Ohio State University’s counseling center, stated that some of this anxiety stems from very high expectations on the part of student. He stated, “students are seeking treatment, saying, ‘I just got the first C in my life, my whole life just got shattered, I wanted to go to medical school and I can’t cope.’” What most would see as a minor setback, these students view as a catastrophe and are unable to deal with the perceived pressure to excel.
The University of Central Florida has designed therapy groups and daily workshops to address the students’ mental health issues and what triggers these conditions. The center will even test out a new phone app for treating anxiety. This app will provide students access to brief video conferences with therapists and will utilize cognitive behavioral therapy methods to assist students.
Oftentimes, anxiety for these students is mild and temporary. College students are faced with drastic life changes and societal stressors, such as learning to be out on their own while managing their school work, social life and sometimes a job along with it. Anxiety that is commonly attributed to these factors is often able to be addressed with early treatment. Unfortunately, due to the rise in more severe mental health cases among college students, many counseling centers are forced to make students with less severe cases wait many weeks before they can be seen for their first appointments.
Ben Locke, associate director of clinical services at Penn State University, has researched collegiate mental health extensively. Locke and his colleagues have tracked counseling centers on campus all over the country for six years and have documented the ongoing trend of students coming into these centers with severe mental health problems. In the research team’s most recent report, half of clients at these centers had already received some form of counseling prior to college and one out of three had taken prescription medication.
The rise in mental health issues among students has raised the demand for mental health services among college campuses. Luckily, as this trend continues, students have grown to accept their problems for what they are and move past the stigma that some attach to mental illnesses.
Mental illnesses affect people of all ages and it is imperative that those struggling with these conditions know that there is a way out. Sovereign Health Group is among the leading and most well-renowned anxiety treatment centers in the country. We offer a variety of inpatient and outpatient treatment programs to help patients who are struggling with mental health disorders, drug addiction, and dual diagnosis. If somebody you know is struggling with anxiety and is in need of treatment, please do not hesitate to call. Our admissions helpline is open 24/7 and one of our treatment specialists will assist you in finding the right treatment option for you.
Written by Benjamin Creekmore, Sovereign Health Group writer