Did you know that one-in-four college students have a diagnosable mental illness? Or that more than 40 percent of college students have felt more than the average amount of stress in the past year? Do you realize that 80 percent of college students have felt so overwhelmed by everything they had to do and that 45 percent have felt that things were hopeless? Does it surprise you that 73 percent of students living with a mental health condition experienced a mental health-related issue and that 34.2 percent said that their college didn't know anything about it?
You don't need the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) reading you these statistics; you have probably felt them yourself sometime in your college career. College is a pressure cooker of anxiety and stress among all students and it only seems to get worse with time. You hear more stories about students dropping out, failing out, or taking a year off to work on their mental stability. Each year, more students have breakdowns and the number of people we lose to suicide is climbing rapidly.
Because of this, many colleges have implemented their own counseling services and advocate greatly for mental health. Arizona State University, for instance, is a great example of a college that cares for their students' mental health. Jan Hamilton, a nurse practitioner and owner of Doorways, a mental health clinic in Phoenix said that ASU has a "large and beautiful facility, with many counselors available to help." She emphasized how great the school is doing at helping students with their mental health.
However, when compared to the Grand Canyon University counseling and mental health services, GCU seems to fall short. I didn't even know Grand Canyon University offered counseling until Doorways told me about their partnership. I shouldn't have to hear about my own university's mental health clinic from an outside source.
With few counselors and pushed out appointment times, it will often take students weeks and months to possibly get an appointment. Often, students have to result getting outside help or suffering through a few months of mental pain until they can get to a counselor.
While I know Grand Canyon University means well, and has their students' best interest at heart, they need to stop building apartments, dorms, food places, and instead focus on expanding their mental health facility. A great start would be by hiring more counselors, implementing a crisis service, and having an easily found mental health page on the Grand Canyon University webpage. Having an FAQ geared toward counseling, common student concerns, hours, important phone numbers (such as a crisis hotline), location, and symptoms listed for mental illnesses are great stepping stones to promoting better mental health for students.
As Grand Canyon University grows and expands, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of building new buildings and getting new cuisine and forget about some of the other things. As mental health becomes less stigmatized and anxiety and depression rates go up, it is important to recognize it on campus and have the proper facilities available for students.
It shouldn't be normal to break down in tears every other day or have to miss class because you are unmotivated to get out of bed. With suicide as the third leading cause of death on college campuses and more than 45 percent of young adults who stopped going to college because of mental health, having a campus-based mental health service and support is vital.
I hope that Grand Canyon University grows its mental health center as more students continue to enroll. It will help students immensely with their health, education, and to find their purpose.
[If you're struggling with depression, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, stress, anxiety, grief, eating disorders, abuse, bullying, PTSD, or any other mental health issue, text a trained crisis counselor 24/7 at the Crisis Text Line or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255]