I am a mental health advocate, and I personally feel that Counseling Centers on any college campus are attempting to improve the mental health of college students on college campuses, but are not succeeding. Why do I say that? Well, here are some examples that I have noticed.
For one, a lot of schools over-hype their ability to help all students. There are students from all different background that are dealing with their mental illness differently and have been dealing with it for different periods of time. The answer is simply, the counseling center is not always prepared for students with different issues. The biggest thing is that counseling centers are not equipped for students that have been dealing with mental illness long term.
Counseling centers offer help for a lot of incoming students who are feeling overwhelmed in class or feel that they do not fit in, or have suddenly realized that they may be having a problem with their mental health. They don't offer help to students who are leaving their 5 year long therapists, leaving the comfort of their own home, and experiencing different events that they may have avoided in high school due to different trauma or experiences. They don't offer full-time help for people with long-term issues.
And what's sad is that those are people who need the most help.
I've witnessed on countless occasions of people saying they cannot return to the Counseling Center because they cannot help the mental illness that they've had since freshman year of high school. This is often people who are seeking help, possibly for the first, or maybe the second time. They may not know how to go about taking control of their mental illness because they either had a parent do it for them or never have done it before. And does the Counseling Center point them in the direction? Often times, no. Or at least, not fully to the level that a person needs.
A college student may have to take it into their own hands to find a therapist, or a psychologist, or any form of inpatient or outpatient care all by themselves. But why can't the Counseling Center help them? What do they have better to do than help?
Oh yes, only help the students who have suddenly felt the feelings these students have been feeling for years.
Now, help students who have suddenly developed some sort of mental illness due to college is crucial, but ignoring the people who need long term help is important. They are still people who have the same risks as those who have recently developed a mental disability. I'm going to take a darker turn and bluntly say that a person who has had mental health issues for years is just as likely to commit suicide as students who have developed symptoms of mental illnesses such as anxiety or depression. They're just as likely to shut people out. They're just as likely to self-harm. They're just as likely to do anything that can cause harm to themselves or others.
So what are Counseling Centers thinking?
I personally feel, that they are not doing enough, and as a college student who knows college is difficult, it's difficult for those struggling both recently and long-term.
Help both. It's as simple as that.