The College Experience is celebrated, encouraged, supported, promoted and even mandated for some. We “spread our wings, embrace change, establish independence and form an identity unique to our individual vision of what College is supposed to be”. Sounds beautiful, right? However, there are so many hard truths that prevent the majority of college students from truly thriving during their collegiate experience. Over the past decade the college lifestyle has changed drastically, and students are experiencing unprecedented mental health challenges. Let’s dive into what is really going on and how we can equip our students with resources to thrive in their college experience.
What the Evidence Shows:
When we look at the statistics and surveys from current student bodies on campus, we are finding an increase in mental health concerns. Depression is now reported to be experienced by 44% of students while 30% of students report anxiety. The most alarming statistic the number of students that are experiencing trauma symptoms. A recent study from the Trauma informed Care program cited 85% of students have experienced a traumatic event before entering their freshman year of college (cite). Traumatic events can affect a variety of physical, emotional and psychological processes that are crucial to not only thrive in college, but for basic adjustment to living at school. Such adjustments include things like setting your own alarm for class, socializing at the big football game, and advocating for academic needs/tutoring. Time-Managment is said to be one of the top three required skills to thrive in college. While navigating campus life can be a huge adjustment that takes place during the college campus experience on its own, students who report having experienced trauma have a wide variety of obstacles that impede their success and ability to thrive.
Collaboration with College Counseling Centers
The good news is that students are beginning to recognize their need for mental health support before they are in crisis. Students used to resist mental health services; now over 65% of college students are seeking individual therapy. Yet this increase in demand has placed significant pressure on Campus Counseling Centers to serve the growing needs of students, and most centers are not designed to serve each and every student. Dr. Eric Wood, The Director of Counseling and Mental Health at Texas Christian University and a Executive Board Member on The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, believes that college counseling centers have a vital role to play in the mental health of their students, but that they cannot meet all the needs of all the students. Instead, Dr. Wood advocates that college counseling centers partner with outside organizations that specialize in the more acute needs of students, such as disordered eating, substance abuse, and trauma. More importantly, Dr. Wood is committed to finding partners who encompass the collaborative and hands on approach that Texas Christian University embodies when it services its students. Dr. Wood has collaborated with several providers who have demonstrated expert practice and continuous communication to ensure the best practice of care for his students that are referred.
Here is how we aim to close the gap to reach College Students in a virtual space:
One of the challenges for any partner organization is being able to service the unique needs of the campus while ensuring the therapists remain part of the organization delivering the services. HopeNation Counseling believes the best way to do this is through virtual care that allows clinicians to serve students in the state in which they are licensed while honoring a cohesive approach to service delivery. Virtual therapy allows us to serve the student in a safe, non-threating and confidential place of the student’s choosing. This might be coordinating with the college counseling center or finding a room on or off Campus that invites a healing space. Virtual therapy is aimed at aligning with the college student’s experience to eliminate barriers to care such as transportation, waiting rooms and strange offices.
At HopeNation, we are certified and credentialed through a premier telehealth training organization to ensure our counselors provide excellent virtual care, We specialize in treating trauma through somatic-based interventions that meet our students where they are with a new lens on behaviors to identify their needs, address the unattainable ideology of the “college experience”, and provide them with appropriate resources. We help students write their own success story of how they spread their wings and establish their unique identity in their beautiful transition from adolescence to adulthood.