It is no surprise to those in higher education the continued rise in student mental health concerns. A recent National Institute of Health report found that an estimated 21.0 million adults in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode, and the prevalence was much higher among individuals ages 18-24. Among college students that number unfortunately follows the same trend. The Healthy Minds network released a study in 2022 which found that in the last eight years, the mental health of college students has steadily declined with 135 percent increase in depression and 110 percentincrease in anxiety from 2013-2021.
This paired with a saddening report from the JED Foundation, 25.5 percent of young adults reported having seriously considered suicide in a single month, on top of a 31percent increase in mental health-related ER visits of young people between the ages of 12-17.
However, institutions often cannot simply treat every student who might benefit from therapy due to the gap between students who need counseling and the number of students who actually receive it. So what are the solutions?
While the solutions are complex and challenging, institutions should consider a multi-pronged, holistic approach to student wellbeing that doesn’t only rely on counselors and student success offices to address this crisis. Institutions often don’t have the clinicians available, and for some students they might not meet the criteria for a mental health diagnosis.
In fact, career services professionals can be just another advocate for students struggling with their mental health and lead them to future success, particularly in the workforce. The challenges of the “real world” will only heighten as students graduate and move onto careers. In a 2022 study by NACE, Healthy Minds Network, AAC&U, Morning Consult, and Mary Christine Institute surveyed 1,005 adults between the ages of 22-28 found that over one-third of young professionals, 39 percent, said their colleges didn’t help prepare them for the mental health challenges that can come with transitioning to the workplace. NACE’s Executive Director Shawn VanDerziel spoke with HigherEd Dive saying this report should provide institutions with opportunity “to consider what experiences – such as internships—can help students build emotional intelligence around work and the workplace.” This also means that employers should ensure they are investing in mental health support for all employees.
The mental health effects of COVID-19 will continue to play a role in how higher education professionals will need to support their students. Abundantly true for student services is the need for cross collaboration to support students at all levels.
With Symplicity Advocate and Symplicity CSM, institutions can collaborate across campus to ensure student success by sharing data, sharing notes, and connecting better with students for better student outcomes with a holistic approach.
In 2021, Symplicity hosted a webinar event with the Healthy Minds Network and the JED foundation to discuss ways career services can support students in crisis. You can find the recording below!