Mental disorders affect one in four students
Published: Friday, October 18, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 18, 2013 02:10
Twenty-seven percent of the Miami University student body has been diagnosed with a mental disorder, according to a June 2012 report published by Miami University Student Counseling Services. According to the report, “Mental Health Status of Miami Students,” these disorders range from disordered eating to suicidality.
Though one in three students might seem an exceptionally high ratio, the report said it is close to the national average of 26 percent.
Counseling Services have recently experienced an increase in the number of students seeking their help, with the most common disorders including anxiety disorder, depression, eating disorders and attention deficit disorder (ADD).
“These findings … show that 20 percent of Miami students score positive on a depression screen while 14 percent score positive on an anxiety screen,” the report reads. “Eight percent of students seriously considered suicide and 2 percent made a plan for committing suicide in the past.”
Despite the high prevalence of mental disorders on Miami’s campus, its students typically have a more negative perception of mental disorders than students at other universities, according to an assessment brief published in October, 2012, titled “Mental Health Service Trends and Stigma Among Miami Students.”
“Miami students report more frequently that they think others view mental health treatment in a negative light, as a sign of weakness, and Miami students report that they view mental health treatment as personal failure as well,” director of Student Counseling Services, Dr. Kip Alishio said. “We had been working hard to break this stigma down. There should be no stigma. It’s no more sign of weakness than getting a cold is.”
So far, in 2013, 9.3 percent of the student body has used the mental health services provided by Miami, according to Alishio. This is an increase of roughly 100 students since 2011, according to an assessment brief of the Student Counseling Services published by Miami in October of 2012.
This increase in student use of the facility in recent years led to the administration expanding the staff of the Student Counseling Center.
“The administration approved the increase in staff by two counselors this year,” Alishio said. “As a result, no students have had to be put on a waiting list yet, whereas at this time, there is normally a long list.”
The launch of a Miami app aimed to prevent suicide also has promising feedback. Since its launch earlier this year, the app has been downloaded over 1000 times, according to Alishio.
“While we can’t look at exactly what they are doing with the app, we found it encouraging that they see the need for it.” Alishio said.
According to the report, the high rate of mental disorders may stem from the high expectations students have for themselves. Current college students had the highest scores ever recorded for their drive for achievement while also having the lowest scores of any cohort in their ability to handle frustration, according to the Miami assessment brief.
Alishio said he encourages those who exhibit signs of a mental disorder seek help. Common signs of depression include a low, sad mood, crying for no apparent reason, over sleeping or struggling to stay asleep, lack of motivation, negative sense of one’s self and a drastic change in appetite. Rapid heartbeat and thoughts, jitteriness and difficulty concentrating are marks of anxiety, another common disorder according to Alishio.
If someone is dealing with a mental disorder, Alishio said he urges him or her to share their feelings and not isolate themselves.
“Talk about it,” Alishio said. “Talk with friends; it is a tendency to isolate oneself when feeling depressed. Make a special effort to interact with other people and talk about it. If needed, also seek professional help.”
Counseling Services are available to all students upon making an appointment. This first five individual sessions are free, and after, the cost is $25 per session. However, Alishio stresses that no student will be denied service because of an inability to pay.
Online screenings are also available on the Student Counseling Services’ website. These screenings are free, anonymous, and are available for disorders such as depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and substance abuse.