Swan

It probably is not news to you that college students are suffering from mental illnesses at a rapidly increasing rate. We enter college to improve our lives, essentially, but many students suffer serious mental health issues during their time in higher education.

The benefits of a college degree are higher than ever, so exhausting ourselves to achieve success does not come as a surprise.

According to the American Psychological Association, a 2010 American College Health Association survey showed 45.6 percent of students reported “feeling that things were hopeless” and 30.7 percent said it was difficult to function normally during the past year. These are abnormally high statistics.

People who have endured four years of college frequently say the mental health problems that come with it are necessary; they are worth it. The mental struggles are simply part of the “glory days” of university. But those former students have probably forgotten just how miserable they actually were.

Why is it that we put so much energy into classwork? Into our social lives? College is competitive, intense and indescribably draining. Everyone said these things to us preceding arrival, but did we know the actual gravity of it all? Probably not.

I may just be a melancholy person (not maybe, definitely), but I know many feel the way I do. Words like “competitive, intense and draining” are merely broad terms that do not entirely express our frame of mind.  

So what do we do about this? Hopefully ask for help. The Counseling and Psychological Services at the University (CAPS) is readily available for our use. Oh wait, do you have insurance? Extra cash to cover the co-pay? Most of the staff at CAPS is in training and, by no fault of their own, inexperienced.

I had a friend who went to a counseling session and left with the advice: “Why don’t you just try to do things that make you happy? Exercise!” She was less than satisfied. However, she, like many of us, had no other option but to go to CAPS, due to the expense of outside psychological centers. 

I am by no means discouraging getting help from the psychological services at the University. I am simply fed up with the way mental health is treated on college campuses. Funding probably is to blame for most of the issues.

Budgets for mental health treatment do not meet the growing need, and many college psychological centers remain understaffed and consequently have long waiting times, according to the Sovereign Health Treatment Center. If a counselor is unable to see you for your depression for four weeks, imagine what could happen in those four weeks left without help. 

Although more easily said than done, the University needs financially accessible options and thoughtful campus culture regarding mental health. 

Katy Swan is a junior from El Dorado studying community health and psychology.