CALM report trends
courtesy of Christine McCarey

By Alexandria Zine

In recent years, there has been an amplification in the distress that the youth experience, especially at the collegiate level. It is triggered by the dread that looms overhead in having to determine your future vocation, not to mention the constant use of social media. The multiple responsibilities of young adulthood, even aside from academics, are overwhelming. A collection of recent studies, conducted by the American College Health Association and available at the Jed Foundation’s online site, confirms the surge of mental health-related struggles over the years.

The data shows that the percentage of students diagnosed with depression has increased 6% from the 10% back in 2000. That same survey concluded that “…nearly 40 percent of students had, at times, felt too depressed to function.”

Another study, from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) at Chadron State College, found that students withdrawing from college courses from psychological difficulties accounts for 64% of young adults. These difficulties comprise mostly of depression, bipolar disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder.

The American College Health Foundation’s recent substantial finding within those studies is an approximation that “1,100 to 1,400 college students take their own lives each year.”

This is a heart-rending finding that indicates the need for immediate help on campus, especially for students who do not have access to any resources based on their circumstances.

These statistics are overwhelming themselves, indicating only a continuing increase. Despite these stark findings, there are mental health services and programs that are or will be incorporated in colleges across the country, including Cape Cod Community College (4Cs).

The key to assisting college students struggling with mental health issues, especially if it escalates to thoughts of taking one’s own life, is accessibility. If students feel unable or ashamed in seeking help, then these rates will continue to steadily increase.

At Montclair State University in New Jersey there is a “mentoring program for students with psychiatric issues, and students have started a chapter of Active Minds, a mental illness advocacy group.”

Likewise, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention allows mentally ill students to interface with their college counselors online. This information is all readily available on Jed Foundation’s article, “Students with Mental Troubles on Rise; Colleges Add Suicide Response Teams, Counselors”.

These groups are in tandem with the Americans with Disabilities Act that ensures students with disabilities receive the necessary accommodations for their success. If a student needs accommodations for any reason, the O’Neill Center for Student Access and Support is located in the MM Wilkens Hall in room 222.

The addition of a mental health wellness center on campus at 4Cs, similar to other universities, will prioritize student welfare and decrease the associated stigma. Being in the digital age means an increase in resources, but easier isolation with decreased human interaction.

Despite the current extensions of campus help, students continue to suffer and substantial change will take time. The majority of students experience high levels of distress on campus, while few profess their need for help. Undoubtedly, there is a widespread mental health crisis among young adults and this internal strife can only be treated with proper resources. For students, the campus should evoke a sense of opportunity and reliability. Mental health resources are equally important, if not more so, than academic resources. For a student to thrive and contribute to their college community, it is essential for universities to reach out to students or at least establish the resources for students to rely on.

The “College Student Mental Health Statistics” by NAMI at Chadron State College indicate that requests for these outlets will climb within the next decade, particularly at community colleges. Fortunately, colleges are finally taking strides towards removing the present stigma surrounding student mental difficulties. 4Cs is in an optimal position to place a mental health resources center on campus and this can hearten the student outlook on life, well beyond academics.