College students increasingly seeking mental health services

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A growing proportion of college students are being diagnosed with mental health conditions, leading universities to bolster their mental health services offerings.

Across the U.S., 17 percent of college students were diagnosed with or treated for anxiety problems in the past year, and 13.9 percent were diagnosed with or treated for depression, according to a spring 2016 survey of 95,761 students by the American College Association, The Wall Street Journal reported. These figures represent marked growth from 2011, in which the survey found 11.6 percent of college students suffered from anxiety and 10.7 percent had depression.

College counseling centers say there has also been a growing number of students with long psychiatric histories, according to the report.

Psychologists haven't been able to pinpoint why the rate of mental health problems seems to be rising. They say everything from the economy and the rising cost of tuition to the impact of social media and unrealistic expectations for success from parents may be contributors.

Micky M. Sharma, PsyD, director of The Ohio State's Student Life Counseling and Consultation Service, said students are "overwhelmed with stress," and "the coping, the resiliency is not where we want it to be. That's a bad combination," according to the report.

Ohio State has seen a 43 percent increase in the past five years in the number of students seeking treatment at the university's counseling center, according to the report.

Many universities have ramped up outreach efforts by increasing visibility of mental health services around campus. To manage increased demand, colleges have enlisted additional staff and expanded services. Ohio State's counseling center hired 12 new staff members last year, raising the total number of clinicians to 65, including trainees, according to the report.

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