More NJ college students seeking help for mental health issues
New Jersey colleges and universities confirm the Garden State is no stranger to a nationwide trend among students on campus.
There's been a noticeable uptick in the number of students seeking help for mental health issues.
On-site doctors don't believe the spike is due to a rise in mental illness, but increased willingness among students to admit there's a problem.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, three-quarters of all mental health conditions begin by age 24. One-in-five young adults will experience some type of mental health issue during college, NAMI claims.
"The decrease in stigma has allowed more students to feel comfortable seeking services," said Dr. Andrew Lee, director of Counseling & Psychological Services at Monmouth University in Long Branch.
Over 80 percent of the students who come for treatment endorse some type of anxiety, Lee said. Less than 10 percent of the student population CPS handles are dealing with more serious issues such as suicidal thoughts.
At Ramapo College of New Jersey in Mahwah, the Center for Health and Counseling Services saw 348 students during the 2016-2017 academic year, according to Dr. Judy Green, the center's director.
That's an increase of just 1.5 percent overall from the year prior, but the number of emergency visits — students who need rapid help — increased by 11 percent during the business day and 29 percent after hours.
"We do provide access to an emergency counselor 24/7, at night and on the weekends, for our Ramapo students," Green said.
While Green also believes the spike in the need for treatment is linked to increased awareness of mental health issues, she believes today's students struggle to develop good coping skills.
Beyond weekly individual counseling, Ramapo offers a number of therapy groups in order to manage increasing intake numbers.
Both Monmouth and Ramapo have a consulting psychiatrist at the ready in case a student's mental health state calls for the use of medication.
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