College students feel more alone and depressed than ever, according to a 2014 survey from the University of California, Los Angeles, Cooperative Institutional Research Program. Researchers asked 153,015 first-time, full-time students at 227 colleges and universities about their mental health and amount of socializing. In the 49 years since the annual survey’s inception, results were at their poorest. In times like these, new solutions may be necessary.
Kevin Eagan, director of the UCLA program, found a correlation between decreased social life, increased time spent on social media and depression. Indeed, the number of college students who spent about 16 hours or more a week with friends has decreased by half since 1987.
Researchers did find a silver lining in their results. Drinking and smoking levels were at their lowest levels in 30 years.
In response to rampant depression on college campuses, the University of Michigan runs an “embedded model” to encourage the development of strong mental health. The embedded model works to place counselors in different parts of the university’s campus. They learn about the students and staff in these particular areas and tailor their approaches as such.
“Our goal is to increase support, but not just to increase by doing the same old thing,” said Todd Sevig, head of the university’s counseling and psychological services. “We really wanted to grow in this new way, and that new way is a direct, local service delivery, local meeting within that particular place.”
Since its implementation last year, Sevig reports the demand for psychological support has increased by 17 percent. He also said while having different counselors in each school is the heart of the program, students are still welcome at the main psychological services center on campus. This promises students confidential assistance just in case there is a fear of recognition in the particular area.
Sevig hopes to grow the program further, raising awareness and increasing mental health help at the University of Michigan.
The same university published several tips for students finding a balance between working hard in school and taking care of themselves. Breaking up the monotony is a good place to start. While routines can help keep school work organized, feeling trapped in hours of homework can feel stifling. Go for a walk, listen to some music or call a friend to take a break and recharge.
Experts suggest taking good care of the body and mind by avoiding excessive drug use of any kind, such as alcohol or illegal substances. They will only serve to disrupt more fruitful pursuits.
Sovereign Health Group can help college students needing a mental health sabbatical. Therapists can help patients build better habits dealing with depression or other mental illnesses. Call now for more information.
Written by Nicholas Ruiz, Sovereign Health Group writer