All across Southern California and the rest of the country, record numbers of college students are seeking mental and emotional counseling to help deal with the stresses of life.
A 2013 survey from the RAND Corp. found that 1 in 5 California college students reported having psychological distress within the last 30 days, a rate that's more than 5 times higher than the general population.
Looking at things nationally, there was a 30% jump in the number of students looking for help between 2009 and 2015.
Varun Soni is the long-time dean of Religious Life at the University of Southern California and heads a new effort at USC to deal with mental health concerns. She told the Southern California News Group:
“There’s a full-blown mental health crisis. The numbers are really troubling, they’re huge. To me it’s not an issue, it’s the issue.”
Students say they're stressed about everything including their course load, relationships, eating disorders, substance abuse, or family conflicts.
Some have economic woes while others arrive on campus with previously diagnosed mental health conditions like bipolar disorder.
“It’s incredible how more severe the issues areIt’s exponentially higher than when I started [counseling] 20 years ago. Every day I have someone in my practice that I’m worried about suicide.”
The demand for help and counseling has outpaced enrollment growth and it's straining schools' resources at their mental health centers.
During the 2016-2017 school year at UC Irvine 2,555 students made counseling appointments, a 64% increase from 5 years earlier. Over the same period, the school's student population only went up by 20%.
The same thing is happening at schools all over Southern California including USC, UCLA< and the Claremont Colleges.
“We’re completely impacted."