Top 15 Reasons Students Seek College Counseling Centers

You might be able to predict the primary concern that drives students to seek help at college counseling centers. It’s the same issue that the majority of students reported being diagnosed with in the past year, according to the American College Health Association National College Health Assessment in 2014.

If you thought of anxiety, you hit the nail on the head. But can you identify the top three concerns? Or even the top 15? The 2013 Association of College Counseling Center Directors survey gathered responses from counseling center directors at 380 colleges and universities nationwide. Here are the top 15 reasons that prompted students to seek counseling in 2012 and 2013. The titles of the concerns are kept identical to those in the survey results.

  • Feeling Anxious: 46%
  • Battling Depression: 39%
  • Navigating Relationship Issues: 35%
  • Managing Psychotropic Medication: 25%
  • Dealing with Suicidal Thoughts/Behaviors: 18%
  • Handling Extensive Treatment History: 14%
  • Overcoming Alcohol Abuse: 11%
  • Addressing Self-Injury: 10%
  • Coping with ADHD: 8%
  • Tackling Drug Abuse: 8%
  • Living with Learning Disability: 7%
  • Confronting Eating Disorders: 7%
  • Surviving Sexual/Physical Assault/Acquaintance Rape: 7%
  • Resisting Oppression: 5%
  • Escaping Stalking: 2%

More Students, More Severe Diagnoses

Students and mental health

College students face mental health concerns in large numbers. The 2014 National Survey of College Counseling Centers collected information from 275 counseling center directors in institutions of higher learning. Nearly all directorsー 94 percentー reported that the numbers of students with severe psychological concerns continue to grow on their campuses.

Below, a table shows what the top eight growing concerns are, and what percentage of directors reported an increase in those concerns from the previous year.

Rank Growing Concerns Percentage of Directors Reporting Increase
1 Anxiety disorders 89%
2 Crises requiring immediate response 69%
3 Psychiatric medication issues 60%
4 Clinical depression 58%
5 Learning disabilities 47%
6 Sexual assault on campus 43%
7 Self-injury issues (e.g. cutting to relieve anxiety) 35%
8 Problems related to earlier sexual abuse 34%

Self-Diagnosis by Students

While the other two surveys came from counseling center directors, the American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment asks students to report their own health and mental health behaviors. In 2014, nearly 80,000 students reported what they were diagnosed with or treated for in the previous 12 months. The table below includes the percentage (rounded to the nearest tenth) of students that reported each respective issue.

Rank Issue Percentage of Students Reporting
1 Anxiety 14.3%
2 Depression 12%
3 Panic attacks 6.7%
4 Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder 5.3%
5 Insomnia 4%
6 Other mental health condition 2.4%
7 Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder 2.3%
8 Other sleep disorder 2.1%
9 Bipolar Disorder 1.5%
10 Phobia 1.1%
11 Anorexia 1.1%
12 Substance abuse or addiction 1%
13 Bulimia 1%
14 Other addiction 0.5%
15 Schizophrenia 0.3%

Impact of Mental Health on Academic Performance

Students Performance

Mental health issues can significantly impact a student’s academic performance. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders can lead to difficulties with concentration, memory, and cognitive function, all of which are crucial for academic success.

Students may find themselves struggling to keep up with coursework, missing deadlines, or performing poorly on exams. In severe cases, mental health issues can lead to academic probation or even dismissal from the university.

Role of College Counseling Centers

College counseling centers play a crucial role in addressing these mental health concerns. They provide a range of services, including individual and group therapy, crisis intervention, and psychiatric medication management.

Counseling centers also often offer workshops and programs on stress management, mindfulness, and other mental health-related topics. They are a vital resource for students struggling with mental health issues.

The stigma of Mental Health Issues

Despite the prevalence of mental health issues among college students, there is still a significant stigma associated with seeking help. Many students fear being judged or misunderstood by their peers, which can prevent them from seeking the help they need.

Colleges and universities need to work to create an environment where mental health is openly discussed and where seeking help is seen as a sign of strength, not weakness.

Importance of Early Intervention

Early intervention is key when it comes to mental health issues. The sooner a student seeks help, the better their chances of managing their symptoms and succeeding in their academic pursuits. Colleges and universities should strive to make students aware of the signs and symptoms of common mental health issues and encourage them to seek help as soon as they start to struggle.

The Need for More Resources

Mental Health Issues in Students

Despite the growing demand for mental health services on college campuses, many counseling centers are understaffed and underfunded. This can lead to long wait times for appointments and limited availability of services. There is a need for increased funding and resources for college counseling centers to ensure that all students have access to the help they need.

Bottom Line

The mental health of college students is a pressing issue that demands attention. With a significant number of students grappling with concerns ranging from anxiety and depression to relationship issues and substance abuse, there is an urgent need for comprehensive support systems. College counseling centers play a pivotal role in providing these services, but they often face challenges due to underfunding and understaffing.

It’s crucial for educational institutions to prioritize mental health, promote early intervention, and work towards eliminating the stigma associated with seeking help. By doing so, we can ensure that students not only succeed acadically, but also maintain their mental well-being during their college years.