It should come as no surprise that mental health issues are a serious area of concern on college campuses. Ruperto Perez is the director of Georgia Tech's Counseling Center
Based on results from national surveys of college and university counseling center directors sponsored by the International Association of Counseling Services (IACS) and the Association of University and College Counseling Centers (AUCCCD), there is an increasing number of students who come to college with issues of depression, stress, and anxiety. The Georgia Tech Counseling Center has seen an average increase of 8 percent annually of students seeking counseling for depression, stress, and anxiety. It is generally accepted that the provision of remedial and crisis services are necessary on a college campus. But that is not enough. We must also provide proactive programs and services that focus on student wellness.
Wellness has to be a foundation for educating and graduating students as whole. To be successful, there has to be a integrated university focus with efforts of collaboration and creative initiative programming and services. There has been a trend on college campuses to create leadership positions (e.g., VP for Wellness) in student affairs to head and direct wellness initiatives and programs. Unfortunately, while student mental health needs remain a serious and growing concern, there remains a lack of sufficient resources on most campuses to meet the growing needs as funding for mental health resources may not be the top priority during the annual budget cycle.
At the 2014 NASPA Mental Health Conference, Dean of Students John Stein and I presented “Addressing Students of Concern: Models of Collaboration.” Joined by colleagues from University of California-Davis, University of California – Irvine and Spelman College, this panel presentation addressed the continuing escalation of mental health issues among college age students based on recent national survey data (e.g., IACS, AUCCCD) and how campus collaboration can more effectively assist students of concern to help mitigate risk on campus. At Tech, the Counseling Center recently has piloted a program with Campus Recreation that “prescribes” physical activity, exercise and social interactions as a means to promote mental well-being. Initial feedback indicates that students with certain levels of depression and anxiety are finding this program to be useful.
Based on the standing room only in our session, it is clear that interest in this issue has grown. Mental health professionals and student affairs professionals in higher education know we must address the growing issues of mental health on campus.
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