Student Mental Health Concerns
As college tuition increases each year, both students and parents have reason to complain. Although the rising costs are unwanted for many reasons, students, nonetheless, should feel encouraged to take advantage of the resources that are readily available on campus.
One such resource is the Counseling Center at UC Irvine. After registration fees are paid, students are eligible for various counseling services, including psychotherapy and consultations for individuals, couples and groups.
However, according to ScienceDaily, an online news source for the latest science-related news, well over half of the students diagnosed with mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, do not seek help.
According to the Jed Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated specifically to reducing the college suicide rate, approximately 1,100 college students take their own lives each year.
What are colleges doing to address these concerns and why do such a small number of students seek help when the rate of mental illness is steadily increasing?
The reasons are still undetermined, but the trends of this serious issue are less ambiguous. Students may simply feel that they will not get the help they need. It is almost impossible for someone to completely understand another person. Although one person may be experiencing the same hardships and feelings as another person, everyone’s situation is specifically unique.
First-year computer science major Jason Tilley commented that ‘a lot of [students] either try to solve the problems themselves or they’re afraid to talk to anyone about it or they just don’t know where to go for help.’ When asked if he would seek help, Tilley responded, ‘I think I can control my problems myself. If I end up close to suicide or a murderous rampage, I’ll look for some help.’
A contributing factor to the difficulty of helping students with mental health issues is that feelings of anxiety and depression are sometimes specific to a particular culture.
That is why it is so important to have a range of counselors with different backgrounds to address these issues.
Still, other students may believe that their condition does not qualify them to get any help whatsoever.
No matter how minor or serious a problem is perceived to be, the Counseling Center will do its best to help students deal with whatever issues they have.
‘They probably don’t know they have a problem,’ said Jordan Sinclair, a second-year informatics and business economics double-major. ‘Imagine being colorblind. How will you know that everyone else does not perceive the world in a similar manner?’
Students who come from families with low socioeconomic backgrounds are much less likely to seek help when needed. A possible reason for this may be that they are unaware of the free services available at a university. Coming from a low-income family would likely cause a person who needs help to make decisions based on financial availability.
In addition to his or her socioeconomic background, being an Asian-American or Pacific Islander significantly determines whether someone seeks treatment or not. A 2005 study by Kearney, Draper, and Baron in the journal ‘Psychology’ shows that whites attend more therapy sessions on university campuses than Asian Americans, Hispanics and African American.
Due to their culture, it is Asian-Americans, in particular, who greatly fail to utilize mental health services. Acculturated families are less likely to seek treatment, as they are unfamiliar with Western norms.
Therapeutic systems that currently exist in Asian-American communities include collective coping and indigenous healing methods, such as acupuncture and herbal medicine.
The shame factor cannot be ignored when reasoning why Asian-Americans do not seek treatment. Many feel shameful if they seek help outside their immediate familial network, according to Laura Uba’s ‘Asian Americans: Personality Patterns, Identity, and Mental Health’ (1994).
Most forms of counseling
require an expression of feelings through verbal means, however, those cultural values such as emotional self-control and humility may be a barrier to students’ decisions to get counseling, according to a 1999 study by Kim, Atkinson and Yang in the ‘Journal of Counseling Psychology.’ Furthermore, even if it is some form of group counseling, most treatments focus on the individual.
On a more general note, the rate of mental illness is increasing. Although students are unaware of the counseling center’s services, it is there and the counselors do not discriminate against the severity of a person’s problem. If you need counseling, don’t be afraid to make an appointment with the UCI Counseling Center, located in Student Services I. Call their offices at (949) 824-6457 to schedule an appointment.