Spike in college students seeking mental health services

8:05 PM, Aug 8, 2013   |    comments
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Left, Michigan State University's Beaumont Tower; Right, the Michigan Union on the campus of the University of Michigan. / Courtesy MSU & JARRAD HENDERSON/Detroit Free Press

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WZZM) -- As you prepare your child for college, consider their mental health. Nationwide, there is a dramatic increase in the number of college students who need counseling for anxiety and depression.

Thousands of MSU students are just like Tyler. "I get really shaky felt like my throat was going to close up, felt like I was going to be sick."

Tyler, whose last name we're withholding, represents a growing number of college students across the nation with anxiety and depression.

"The increase in volume has made for increase wait times at the counseling centers, and when you're having anxiety, depression, panic attacks, it can be difficult," says MSU's counseling director, Dr. Scott Becker.

Becker says the school's case load increased 76% in the last five years to about 3,000 students.

"I think most institutions are responding to it with a limited range of financial resources so it is a challenge," says Dr. Becker.

She believes the increase is related to better mental health care. Students are getting medication earlier, and making it to college, who may not have decades earlier.

"More students are coming to school with a treatment history, which is a good thing but it puts a bigger demand on the counseling center," says Dr. Becker.

MSU's counseling center added staff and started an outreach campaign to destigmatize mental health so people like Tyler can get treatment.

"Using medication and talk therapy has done wonders for me, and I hope people realize that, things do get better," says Tyler. His anxiety is now under control and he is applying for graduate schools.

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