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Myth Busting: College Mental Health Programming

It is well known that college students can struggle with mental illness. Despite this fact, implementing quality, effective mental health programming is often met with resistance. Misperceptions around cost, staffing requirements, and mental illness itself can lead some colleges to avoid adding educational and awareness-building programs. This can lead to increased strain on existing counseling services and more students falling through the cracks.

The Myths of College Mental Health Programming

Our school can’t afford it.

Considering the alternative, many mental health programs are worth their cost. And compared to the vast amounts spent on other school activities, like athletics, the cost of programs aimed at identifying and treating students with mental illness are very small. By not adopting mental health programming, your school runs the risk of taking on even greater indirect financial costs. These could come from student drop outs, low campus morale, and strain on academic counseling. Considering these factors, you can’t afford not to.

Students won’t use it.

Stigma is real and can prevent people from seeking help for their mental health. In these situations, anonymity helps. Anonymous online screening programs can bridge the gap between a suffering student and counseling. Awareness events, peer-run support groups, and screening programs let students know they aren’t alone and where to seek help. The more your campus talks about mental health, the more students will listen and respond.

Our students don’t have these issues.

Unfortunately, mental illness is a problem on every college campus. Approximately 26 percent of Americans ages 18 and older – about 1 in 4 adults – live with a diagnosable mental health disorder. Half of all mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety disorders, and substance use, start by 14 years of age. The good news is these illnesses are treatable. Just like physical illness, the earlier symptoms are detected and treated, the greater the chance of recovery.

We don’t have enough staff to implement.

Mental health programming can help streamline your school’s response to mental illness. Screening programs help identify the students who need your help the most and direct them to the appropriate resources. Mental health programming can also be used in tandem with other school groups such as student government, residence life associations, Greek Life, religious groups, or any student organization. Working with professors in health classes, psychology-related courses, or general introductory courses for freshmen can also be effective. Mental health screenings can be a great way to introduce the topic of mental health and teach students about the signs and symptoms of a mental health disorder.

Mental health programming is only for students with severe mental illness or suicide.

It’s easy to only associate counseling with crisis situations like suicide and psychosis. While these can be very real risks for students, counseling can also be helpful to students struggling with the everyday stressors of college life. Anxiety, academic stress, and depression are common issues for college students. Providing a place for students to seek counsel and advice early on in their struggles can prevent the symptoms from developing into something more serious.

Increasing the conversation about mental illness on your campus is always a good idea. No campus is immune from these disorders. Anonymous screening programs can be an effective addition to the current resources your school offers. Suicide prevention programs, substance use awareness initiatives, and peer-led support groups are also excellent tools. To learn more about the variety of programs available through Screening for Mental Health, please visit our website and online shop.