I know that my goal for this website is to be a helping hand for those who care for someone who suffers from anxiety or depression or any other mental health disorder BUT today I just need to RANT about something in our local news.
Feel free to express your comments or concerns below… I am very curious what you are seeing where you live.
Recent National News
Depression on Campus has been all over the news lately. A recent article in Time magazine stated that record number of college students are seeking treatment for depression and anxiety and the schools can’t keep up.
In the spring of 2017 the Center for Collegiate Mental Health found that 40% of college students said they had felt so depressed within the last 12 months that it was difficult for them to function. And 61% said they had “felt overwhelming anxiety”.
As colleges across the nation try to keep up with the demand it is evident that many students are slipping through the cracks. Some say because the supply and demand issues the wait times are somewhat lengthy and many don’t feel it’s worth it. Others find that the stigma associated with going to a mental health counselor keeps some students away.
One would think with all this national attention to this very “at risk” age group colleges would be expanding their facilities and getting in more counselors and services to help.
Recent Local News
Last week I was checking through my local news articles and come across this headline:
Student’s Blast PA’s Largest Community College for Cutting Campus Mental Health Services while Spending Big on Renovations.
The article goes on to say that The Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) which services more than 17,000 students has ELIMINATED ALL ON-CAMPUS MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING.
Keep in mind this is the age bracket that falls into the SUICIDE is the second leading cause of death for college kids.
What a great idea to ELIMINATE ALL on-campus mental health counseling. (Sorry)
Apparently the demand for mental health services has nearly doubled in the last decade and our local community college felt that just ELIMINATING this services would be best. If someone on campus had as issue that they need to talk to someone about they head over to the dean of students and they will refer you to an OFF-CAMPUS counselor.
On-campus counselor FREE
Off-campus counselor NOT FREE
How do we think this is going to fly with the average community college student does not put an extra $80.into their weekly budget for an off-campus therapy session. Even with insurance and co-pays it gets pricey and most kids will opt for more pizza and beer. Or worst case scenario look for other non-healthy and often times dangerous ways to try to get some relief.
Desperate for help right now, some young adults at this particular college are coming up with some ways to help each other.
As much as I appreciate the attempt to fill the void I am not sure these would come highly recommended by me but I am just a mom looking in from the outside. At least they are trying… What do you think?
- they are trying to start a mental health awareness club on campus
- they have started a Facebook group for those seeking help
- someone is offering his services as a certified peer support specialist
- and others are talking about bringing in therapy dogs
Am I the only one who can see this having the potential to turn out very badly…or do I just watch too many Lifetime Movies?
Some Better Ideas
I decided I had better take this post in a better direction than it was heading BUT this article really got my emotions going. My daughter has taken classes at that community college as well as so many of her friends. I find it SAD that so many colleges are going this route BUT there is hope.
I know there is nothing that we can do about the choice of one local community college making a poor decision but please keep this post in mind when sending a loved one off to college. Be aware that for whatever reason they may not be able to get the resources they need.
Ask some hard questions.
Be aware of sudden mood changes.
I know that by the time your kids are in college they are technically old enough to make their own decisions, but what if they decide they are having suicidal thoughts and need to talk to someone and the sign on the door refers them to a therapist open Monday thru Friday with a three-week wait list?
Tell them they can call you ANYTIME.
Make sure they have resources that are available 24/7 stored in their phone. Hide the number under Aunt Tammy if you have to, but a Crisis Prevention Hotline should be accessible to them (even if it just might be for a friend). A number on a magnet in the dorm on a refrigerator is not always useful at the moment it is needed.
Get some off-campus help if needed but help them find the right fit. Perhaps NOT the over-worked under-paid one that the college is sending a thousand kids to their office. Maybe transfer a little extra into their account to help pay for the services. Adulting for the first time is hard and many times they don’t want to admit they need help…BE AWARE!
I know all these seem like common sense things now, but I admit I missed the mark on picking up some signs and we were not always as open and honest with each other when discussing mental health. My daughter and I have come a long way but it took time and patience.
I just hope that something that is discussed on this website can help you or a loved one not make some of our mistakes and learn from us that there is HOPE.
A few months ago I wrote another article called Suicide Prevention Toolkit-Our Way. Feel welcome to go check it out here:
Keep fighting the good fight