University can be a very trying period in a person’s life. For many students, it is their first time living away from home. The work load is also much higher than high school, and when you combine all of these responsibilities together, it can be quite stressful. There is also the rising cost of education and the knowledge that, even if you get a degree, that is no guarantee of a job and you still must deal with student loans and other debts accumulated while in school.
Universities have some mental health supports in place for students, but these are seen as increasingly inadequate due to the number of people requesting them.
On the one hand, that growing number of students seeking supports indicates that the stigma associated with mental illness is decreasing. However, if there are an insufficient number of counselors and an especially long wait time, these people are not getting the help that they seek, making their bravery seem futile.
There is also the issue of how serious the cases can be. Typically, students only see counselors for a handful of sessions, and that is not nearly enough for problems like major depression and suicidal ideation.
As a result, some students are seeking private counseling. There are many well-qualified and beneficial therapists in this country, and their wait times are typically much faster than those funded by the government. However, there is the issue of cost. These therapists typically charge north of $100 an hour for an appointment, which is often well beyond what a typical student can afford given their other financial responsibilities.
So, what is the answer? Ideally, we need to increase access and decrease wait times for students needing this help. However, like so many things in life, it always seems to boil down to money. That is very unfortunate.