BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — The mental health crisis among college and university students has been pushed to the limits over past two years.
There is a mental health crisis on America’s college campuses, but experts say it was building well before COVID and the pandemic only exacerbated the problem.
The Mental Health Association in New York (MHANYS)issued a new study that says something needs to be done.
“Stress and trauma are cumulative. They build in our system over time the way plague builds around our arteries,” remarked Eric Kussin, founder & CEO, #SameHere, global mental health movement.
MHANYS has been tracking data of mental illness among college students.
The study cites data from 2007-2017 saying it represents the increase of how prevalent mental illness is among college students:
- Number of students diagnosed with mental health condition increased from 21.9% in 2007 to 35.5% in 2017
- Rates of depression increased 24.8% in 2009 to 29.9% in 2017
- Rates of suicidal ideation up from 5.8% in 2007 to 10.8% in 2017
Kussin said he's not surprised by the study.
“Because of two years of trauma, that are whole society has lived through, the unfortunate outcomes that we’re going to see and continue to see — unfortunately it’s going to be a tsunami,” remarked Kussin.
This study says this mental health crisis among college students reflects the rising rates of depression, anxiety, suicide and substance misuse .
“I call those collectively deaths of despair — when someone overdoses, versus someone dies by suicide often times there is a big connection there, which is so much emotional pain and suffering and what they are facing,” replied Kussin.
“What we're seeing is not necessarily an increase in prevalence as much as an increase in students seeking mental health service,” said John Richter, director of public policy, MHANYS.
Mental illness symptoms can begin well before college, often starting at the age of 14 and 7-years-old for anxiety.
“Then they hit their first year of college and that's a huge stressor and suddenly we see a problem,” Richter explained.
“What would you like to see, as an organization, happen?" Buckley asked.
“We look at increasing what we call mental health literacy on college campuses. We found that when people know more about mental health when they understand more about it — a few things happen — attitudes change — stigma gets reduce,” Richter responded. “We want a public policy focus.”
“This is such an important concern for our students for our students in the SUNY system,” stated Timothy Gordon, vice president for student affairs, SUNY Buffalo State.
Gordon says there is high demand for one on one counseling and they need greater investments in higher education to support it.
“Long ago we moved to a wellness model, so that structure that houses counseling and other services — really is a coordinated effort and so it's really a model is one that helps our students,” Gordon described. “Mental health is connected really to the large web of wellness — and we've really tried to define in that way at Buffalo State.”
7 News spoke to three Buffalo State students who told us generally they are stressed over the return to in-person learning and the way it changed their work load after remote school work for nearly two years.
They described trying to manager school, a job and navigating through life and how it can build anxiety.
Buffalo State offers a fullCounseling Center to assist students with their mental health needs.
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