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College Student Access to Mental Health

Linh Phan, Research Intern SBNC

June 2021

The Issue

Currently in the United States, there are about 17.5 million college students. For most of these university students, it is a given fact that they must perform well in school, and for some, doing well and succeeding in college is a matter of being able to repay their debts or supporting their families in the future. The urgency to get the best grades and GPA for hires, or graduate schools has created a sort of pandemic that pertains to the mindset of those that think they will fail if they mess up just one time. The urgency turns into stress, anxiety, depression, etc., when an important event in the college courses comes up (exams, quizzes, and finals), that gets grouped into the broad category that is mental illness. In a report made by the American College Health Association involving about 68,000 college students in the spring of 2019, 27.8% reported having anxiety, 20.2% had depression, and 34.2% experienced some form of stress. When these mental health issues go untreated or ignored, this can lead to students getting a lower grade in their homeworks, exams, or projects; ultimately leading them to receive a lower grade in the course or dropping the class altogether. A combination of these factors are said to result in the 36.9% of college students considering suicide just in 2019 alone. So how do colleges go about preventing these students from going through with suicide, and ensure that what they were feeling will never equate to the hopelessness that can only be resolved with suicide? This policy brief will look at the variety of solutions that different universities are trying to, or has been implemented to deliver dire help to their student population that struggle with mental health.

The unknown future consequences of not doing well in college looms over the majority of university students. This can culminate in the degradation of personal mental health, which can result in stress, anxiety, depression. In some cases, the feeling of hopelessness that comes with these mental health issues drive students to end their life. It is up to the universities to take action in aiding their students through their tough times. This is the only way to lower college students’ suicide rate, because the resources that the university has to provide are the only immediate relief. Often, not all students go to universities that are the closest to them. The population at a college consists of all types of students - international, out-of-state, or commuting. For those students that can’t go home when they are struggling, it is of utmost importance for the universities to establish good mental health awareness and help programs. Various colleges have responded to the gravitas of this situation by implementing mental health resources that would be within the grasp of the students.

The Solution

For example, at the prestigious Northwestern University, orientation is being held in the forms of short videos where they had actual students testify their own personal struggle with mental health, and their journey in getting help. Or at Drexel University, along with physical health check-up services, they also provide kiosks that provide mental health screenings. Since today’s society very much revolves around the use of the internet, another way that colleges are providing help is through online programs, where it will be the easiest and quickest way to reach out to their student population. One of those online programs is called, Kognito. Kognito is a virtual campus that helps students become more familiar with different aspects of mental health and most importantly, where to receive help and all of this is done through courses taught by virtual college students. If all universities go through the length and time to understand the personal mental struggles of all students, and take the time to research ways to effectively reach out to every student to let them know that help is just right around the corner, then the rate of college students contemplating or going through with the act of suicide when they have anxiety, depression, or other taxing mental health issues, will surely lower in number.



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