The Failure of Mental Health Treatment in College Students
A recent study performed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness on college students presented some disturbing findings on the status of psychiatric treatment of college students. The study showed that 26% of college students have a diagnosable psychiatric abnormality with 76% of students having a temporary mental health crisis throughout their college career. Out of this number, only 55% sought treatment whether through school or non-school resources. The students that do seek support however, often face a wait time of a week or more until they are able to see counselors. These numbers represent a societal issue in the way that mental health is viewed as well as the importance, or there lack of, in the eyes of many colleges and universities.
These percentages are the consequences of two realities: the stigmatization of mental health issues and the institutional failure of mental health resources. Stigmatizing mental health issues comes in many forms. The most common way it manifests itself is how it is perceived as a sign of weakness and indulgence. This pushes a sense of embarrassment on those who suffer from such disorders, creating the idea that seeking treatment is a social turnoff towards one’s peers. In order to remedy this problem, it is essential that colleges and universities educate students and faculty about mental health in order to deconstruct barriers that result from the disapproval or misunderstanding of mental health conditions.
It is also necessary to look at the unique conditions that individuals may face when dealing with mental health issues. As and example, members of the LGBTQ+ community frequently face discrimination as a result of their sexual orientation. Not only is it necessary to treat the resulting distress of such discrimination, but also to treat the discrimination as a problem itself. Additionally, veterans of war may face a host of issues resulting from their experiences. These require services that may be unique to this certain student populous. Treating mental health issues as if there is a universal cure is setting it up for failure. Each case must be treated individually in order to ensure a more effective outcome.
Institutional failure exists as a result of the level of importance that colleges place on their students mental health. Thirty-four percent of students cite their busy schedule as a result of their failure to seek proper mental health care services. It thus becomes crucial for colleges to place importance of mental health over class attendance. This involves not just the administration but faculty as well. Students that face mental health issues should not be faced with disciplinary action or threat of losing financial aid. As this is true, informing faculty of the necessity for treatment will allow proper accommodations to be made to treat the present conditions.
Despite the best of intentions, colleges and universities around the country frequently fail in their attempts to treat mental health within their student populous. This is resultant of a misunderstanding of the sociology of mental health issues and their implications on those that they affect. Without treating these systemic issues, the student populous with mental health issues is put at risk of falling behind both academically and socially. This inequity exists throughout most college campuses. It is necessary for college campuses to become role models to re-educate the public on how to perceive mental health not as a social construct but as a real problem of individuals of all ages.
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