College Students and Mental Health Crisis.

Here are some excerpts from an outstanding article discussing the exploding issue of anxiety and mental health issues on college campuses ………………………………..

Across the country, some school leaders and experts say the pandemic has brought new urgency to a mental health crisis that had been unraveling on college campuses for years. From social isolation to heightened feelings of inadequacy, students say it has made it harder to concentrate on school and put a strain on families and friendships.

Young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 for years have struggled disproportionally with mental illness compared to older groups, and experts cite such underlying factors as high expectations, social media and financial pressures. Now, evidence shows college students experienced higher rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation in 2020 than in 2019.

Despite the promises of vaccines and a return to normal in the fall, students are still stressed, overwhelming campus counseling centers with requests for treatment. Unable to see most students in person, school counselors have responded by developing self-help tools and hosting virtual therapy sessions.

Many students, whether they’ve contracted the virus or not, are reeling from the last year of uncertainty and wonder when they’ll recover.

The perils of isolation.

AU reopened some residence halls this month but many students had tried to replicate communal living in nearby apartment buildings, houses and even hotels — forming friendships in the process.

Counselors at AU have offered services to students including anonymous mental health screenings, virtual workshops and group therapy sessions. But, wary about pursuing counseling,

‘It’s demoralizing’

Students also are supporting each other through traumatic events via text, instead of face-to-face. It has made a tense year even more strenuous, as students of color deal with waves of violence and social upheaval. Black students made similar sacrifices last summer as the world reacted to the police killing of George Floyd and demands for justice for Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

Moving through crisis

On campuses across the country, counseling center staff are “busier than ever.,”

The pandemic also introduced the unique challenge of delivering mental health care across state lines. When students scattered to their homes across the country, on-campus health providers suddenly faced a hodgepodge of licensure laws that determined where they could and couldn’t practice. Dozens of states have relaxed their restrictions, but 60 percent of students still say the pandemic has made it more difficult to access mental health care, surveys show.

To fill in the gaps, counselors are producing self-help videos, sharing advice on social media and using computer-assisted therapy programs that can be just as effective as in-person treatment.

Officials also scattered mental health days throughout the semester, when classes are canceled and professors are discouraged from assigning work.

“It’s really important for us to provide resources and tools for students so they don’t get to that point where we’re in crisis.” “The pandemic has really extenuated the pressures we feel to help students with mental health.

“College Anxiety and College Crisis,” Washington Post (April 6, 2021).