American Psychological Association indicates rise in freshman mental health disorders

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As the number of students seeking mental health services rises, the Counseling and Mental Health Center is increasing their efforts to raise awareness of the signs of mental disorders. 

A September 2018 study conducted by the World Health Organization reported that out of 13,984 incoming first-year students across 19 campuses and eight countries, 35 percent showed signs of a mental health disorder. Major depressive disorder was found to be the most common, followed by generalized anxiety disorder. 

Katy Redd, associate director for prevention development and media relations at CMHC, responded to the report by citing the awareness campaigns CMHC has pursued. 

“We’ve always worked with the orientation advisors so they are aware to communicate our resources to incoming students,” Redd said. “This year, during orientation, we did a presentation to all students that dealt with how to help a friend in distress and warning signs of suicide and what to do if someone was in distress.”

In 2017, there was an estimated 25 percent increase in the number of students attending counseling sessions, according to the CMHC website. However, counseling is not the only service available. University Health Services also provides mental health treatment.

“There are counselors who office in the University Health Service Clinic because we know for several students it may not be just a medical problem or a mental health issue, but they frequently cross that boundary,” said Melinda McMichael, UHS interim chief medical officer and director. 

Students often receive counseling from the CMHC, but in the case of generalized anxiety and major depression, they must receive medication from UHS. When neither the CMHC or UHS has the capabilities or the resources to handle certain cases, the student is referred to off-campus healthcare providers. 

Rian Robison, astronomy and physics freshman, said he was experiencing acute anxiety in the beginning of the year, so he reached out to UHS. He received counseling and prescription anti-nausea medication for the physiological responses to his anxiety. This was his first time using any form of mental health services.  

“I didn’t know how to look for certain resources, and it has helped me learned how to do that,” Robison said. “It made me more comfortable. If I am having a bad week, there is something I can go to help relieve that stress, and I don’t have to sit in my room and sleep it off.”