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October 26, 2009

College Survey: Bipolar Disorder and Depression on the rise

We recently posted a blog (Oct 19) about the increase in bipolar disorder and depression on college campuses. We cited an NPR Story on "Morning Edition" which highlighted actions that Stanford students are taking to educate other students about Mental Illness. We also cited a multi-decade study which surveyed college counseling professionals across the U.S. We've tracked down the survey, a compressive study which offers a look at the intensity and incidence of Mental Illness on colleges dating back to the early 1980s as well as a snapshot of the current state of counseling services on US colleges.

The survey includes 284 counseling centers from a broad range of colleges from small Liberal Arts colleges to large Universities including MIT, Duke, Cornell, Swarthmore, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), the University of Texas (Austin), the University of Wisconsin (Madison) & the University of California (Davis). .

The survey offers an illuminating look at the current state of Mental Illness within US colleges and the availability or lack thereof of critical counseling and psychiatric services on campuses. A few highlights:

Scope of survey: 284 counseling centers from a broad sample of US colleges and Universities representing approx 3.4 million students.

9% of enrolled students sought counseling services during the past year; an additional 29.6% (almost one million) were seen by counselors in other contexts (workshops, orientations etc

Only 60% of schools offer psychiatric services on campus; the number of consultation hours per week per 1,000 students is 1.7

Almost one-third of directors believe that psychiatric consultation is woefully inadequate or non-existent on their campuses.

95% of directors report that the recent trend toward greater number of students with severe psychological problems continues to be true on their campuses

Center Directors report that 49% of their clients have severe psychological problems

26% of center clients (students) are on psychiatric medication. This figure is up from 20% in 2003, 17% in 2000, and 9% in 1994.
We encourage you to check out the survey and draw your own conclusions from the plethora of data and information contained in the study. What seems unambiguous is that ever greater numbers of U.S. students are suffering from Mental Illnesses, and they require some form of psychological or psychiatric treatment. It's also clear that many if not a majority of US college counseling centers are under serving students who need serious help.

Why is there a dramatic increase in the incidence and intensity fo Mentall Illnesses on college campuses? This question is beyond the scope of this particular blog post; however, it's an important issue which should concern both students and counseling professionals on college campuses. Please feel free to respond to this blog and offer your own insight into or experience of Mental Illness on your college campus. This is an important issue and your input may be helpful to a fellow student in need of support and understanding.


References
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href="http://www.iacsinc.org/2008%20National%20Survey%20of%20Counseling%20Center%20Directors.pdf">Additional Information: 2008 College Survey PDF

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