Anxiety continues to rise at already-flooded counseling centers

Over half of students reported anxiety as a top concern, for the seventh year in a row

Anxiety among college students continues to rise, according to a survey by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors (AUCCCD), Emily Tate writes for Inside Higher Ed

Between September 2015 and August 2016, 529 university counseling center directors responded to the survey from AUCCCD. The sample was evenly split between public and private institutions. Over half were four-year colleges and universities, while the remainder represented community colleges, professional, and fine arts schools.

Among the student findings:

  • 51% of students reported having anxiety;
  • 41% of students reported having depression;
  • 34% of students reported having relationship concerns; and
  • 20.5% of students reporting having thoughts of suicide.

The number of students reporting anxiety has climbed steadily since 2009, when it became the most common issue bringing students to counseling centers. The share of students reporting depression has also increased every year since 2012. 

Why students are flooding counseling centers: We told them to.

The survey also found that many colleges are investing in hiring more counseling staff and hiring staff with particular credentials. Respondents reported that they have:

  • Diversified their counseling center staff to match their student body, in an effort to correct a long-standing lack of diversity;
  • Begun to offer counseling services in multiple languages;
  • Hired more counselors overall to accommodate increasing demand for services; and
  • Increased the budget for salaries.

These efforts appear to be paying off. Counseling centers reported that 72% of students said their use of counseling services helped their academic performance.

David Reetz, the director of Counseling and Psychological Services at Rochester Institute of Technology and the lead researcher for the survey, says more students are using counseling services because students are growing increasingly savvy about how counseling can help them get better grades and be happier (Tate, Inside Higher Ed, 3/29; AUCCCD report, accessed 4/4).

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