How to Ask for Mental Health & Addiction Services while Still in College

 In Mental Health, Treatment

College represents a place and time in one’s life that is thought to be a period of self-actualization and of unrestrained potential. It’s also accompanied by a chance to develop lifetime friendships, one’s own individuality, and an opportunity to get a sense of what the world has to offer. For many students, the challenges involve making choices that will affect them for the remainder of their life. 

There are a lot of difficulties plaguing college students today that fall under the categories of mental health and addiction. An explanation for this is that Individuals at this stage in their lives face severe amounts of stress, whether they’re working to ensure their undergraduate years are “the greatest years of their lives” and at the same time have to manage the preparatory ground upon which they’ll build their future career and life’s work. 

Why is College Such a Vulnerable time for Mental Illness to Strike?

The college environment is a setting that consists of many momentous events for students struggling with addiction and mental health.  These students are being drawn in conflicting ways like making daily decisions regarding where to place their energy and effort. They often face pressure on all sides, and they must decide who they are, what they value, and how they wish to dedicate themselves. 

 In a period when a supportive peer system is so precarious, those in recovery may habitually feel a sense of disengagement from their peers, especially in the college environment. Of course, this adds to the difficulty of students being able to maintain their sobriety. Other difficulties such as adapting and adjusting to new academic burdens and experiencing freedom from parental management, all coupled with increased financial pressures also add weight to these challenges.  In addition, although many will use this time as a break from their parents and will choose to live apart from family, their intellect and perception of reality still remain in reasonable infancy, and they may be prone to making poor decisions. 

The conglomeration of all these factors generates an impeccable storm of depression and anxiety on the college campus.

Common Mental Health Issues Found on College Campuses:

  • Addiction Disorders
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Eating Disorders
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Self-Injury
  • Depression
  • Suicidal Ideation and Behaviors
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sleeping Issues Disorder

Are They Getting the Services They Need?

While depression and anxiety were the most reported reasons for visiting the school’s on-campus counseling center, a study in 2010 reported a 28% increase in individuals utilizing services for severe mental health issues, including also suicidal ideation, alcohol abuse, eating disorders and self-injury. In this most recent decade, we can only imagine a similar increase has occurred. 

As of Spring of 2019, roughly 45% of college students surveyed reported feeling so depressed that it was difficult to function, 66% reported overwhelming anxiety, 13% admitted seriously considering suicide, and 8% had intentionally self-injured. These disorders range in severity, extent, and impact on life functioning from mild to severe. The same study indicated that of these individuals, only 16% had sought diagnosis or professional treatment. 

A study done by the American Psychological Association establishes that without getting the services they need, roughly 85% of students with psychiatric ill-health never complete their studies before leaving school.  It is also revealed that less than 20% of the college students that were seriously committing suicide never received services from their university counseling center.

Why is this happening? 

While the services on campus offered for those struggling with mental health have increased in the past years, it is still lacking when considering the demand and need for those services. You may be able to get a one-time meeting with a therapist on campus for urgent problems, but many of the appointments for ongoing treatment are full by mid-semester. 

Some schools have even forgone offering on-campus therapy or psychiatry services and instead rely on referrals to outside community agencies. This often leaves individuals to fend for themselves in their pursuit of mental health services, and because they seldom have the tenacity and grit required to navigate our current mental health system, they end up not receiving the services they need at all. 

What is the way out?

Currently, a range of policies and services exist to recognize, treat, and manage mental health and addiction disorders for individuals in college, although it still remains to be determined whether the services provided effectively meet the needs of those they aim to serve. Researchers have shown that the most active approach towards helping someone with mental health or addiction disorders is early intervention rather than allowing the condition to progress. 

In combination with screening for substance abuse and mental health in the general health care settings, schools would do well to develop relationships with community providers and to make clear to their students the policies and procedures to follow in order to obtain services. Increasing general awareness regarding the existing pathways to obtain services is instrumental in getting students the support that they need, as is being aware themselves of local agencies and the services they offer. 

Collegiate Recovery Program

For students living in the greater Los Angeles area attending schools like USC, UCLA, Otis College of Art and Design, Pepperdine, Loyola-Marymount, or any of the numerous additional schools in the area, Launch Centers offers a program specifically designed for you. Asking for mental health and addiction services can be easy when you’re partnered with the type of facility that knows what you need to succeed. The outpatient services we offer make it easy for you to continue work or school as well as to get the level of care and support that you need. For those needing more support, the intensive outpatient and partial day programs might be the right match for you. 

From diving into new educational opportunities or staying the course with what you’ve already begun, Launch guides young adults towards creating healthy routines and structure that will help you to be successful in all of life’s pursuits. 

Based in Los Angeles, California, Launch provides a supportive environment for young people to reclaim their lives from the grips of a mental illness or substance abuse.  For more information about our outpatient program for young adults please call us today at 1-424-526-5339.

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