North Central’s 2015 fall semester sees spike in withdrawals related to mental health
Depression affects the lives of more than 19 million adults in America every year. This is approximately 10 percent of the United States population. A majority of diagnosed adults never receive proper treatment for their depression, according to the National Data on Campus Suicide and Depression.
During the 2015 fall semester, North Central experienced a spike in withdrawals correlated to mental health issues. 68 percent of the people who left school mid-semester withdrew to care for themselves – most of those dealt with mental health. This was a large jump from the fall of 2014 when only 37 percent of departures were health related, according to Erin White, dean of student advocacy.
Near the end of the fall 2015 semester, counselors in the Student Success Center were nearly booked for weeks at a time, another abnormal occurrence. While staff were able to track how many students were leaving, they were unable to identify the reason behind the increase.
“There was nothing definitive we could pinpoint for why the numbers were up so much,” White said. “If it was just freshmen who were impacted, it would be easier to figure out, but it wasn’t just new students. It’s a bit of a mystery.”
During this time, staff and faculty received special training to recognize signs of severe anxiety and stress. White said that North Central is unique in the closeness of relationship of faculty members and students.
“At North Central, a student may feel comfortable talking to a staff or faculty member about depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts,” White said. “We saw some of those things presenting themselves outside the classroom, so we wanted to provide training for them.”
White often encourages people to seek out guidance through the Student Success Center — North Central’s center for academic, counseling, career and disability services. Through the center, students have access to free professional counseling that can be arranged in person on the second floor of Miller, or via phone or email.
“I want people to come to the point where seeking help to improve mental health is a sign of strength,” White said. “It’s not a weakness.”
This story is part of an even greater narrative about national mental health on college campuses. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 75 percent of mental illnesses or cases of emotional distress appear by the age of 24. This is often brought about from major life transitions such as moving away from home, forming new friendships or making important life decisions regarding careers or relationships.
The 2015 annual report of the Center for Collegiate Mental Health found that students are scheduling counseling appointments seven times faster than people enrolling in the institutions. The report also saw a significant impact for those who sought help through counseling services.
Despite the increase in counseling on college campus, some still struggle to admit the reality of a mental struggle. In a USA Today article, it is depicted that stigma “forces many to live in shame rather than seek support, even as their lives unravel.”
North Central’s Student Success Center defies this stigma, according to their page on the internal Skyline website.
“College life is riddled with so many new endeavors and obstacles, which at times, can compromise every student’s desire to succeed in higher education,” it says. “Sometimes these obstacles may need professional assistance to assist in navigating through or around them.”
If you are struggling with your mental health and are interested in scheduling a counseling appointment, contact the Student Success Center at 612-343-5000. You can also call the 24/7 national suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.