More students seek help from psych services

Ben Wolford

Recent increase at Kent State reflects a national trend

Thirty percent more students are seeking help from University Psychological Services than last year, Health Services Director Mary Reeves said.

In the five years she’s worked at Kent State, Reeves said she’s never seen an increase like that. The volume of appointments even prompted her to hire another part-time psychologist on top of the four full-time, licensed psychologists already there.

And it’s not just happening in Kent.

“I was starting to notice a trend of increase,” Reeves said. “And I’m on a national college counseling center Listserv, and on that Listserv that same week, there was an e-mail from another university noticing an increase in requests for psychological counseling.”

She said more than 10 other universities responded to the e-mail reporting increases between 30 and 60 percent.

And it’s not just because the weather is dreary and finals are approaching, although Reeves said those do cause surges in patients.

In October alone, Psychological Services appointments numbered 454. In past years, numbers are closer to 300 in that month.

“We think it’s a few things,” Reeves said. “One is that we were more actively involved in new student orientation, so more students know that we’re here. But what university health centers on the Listserv are saying is that, in general, stressors on students – just like the general population – have increased.”

A study published Monday in the Archives of General Psychiatry links Reeves’ data to national findings.

“Almost half of college-aged individuals had a psychiatric disorder in the past year,” the report said. More than 20 percent of those were alcohol use disorders, and about 18 percent were personality disorders.

Chief psychologist Pamela Farer-Singleton has been at Kent State for 14 years. She said business has gone up steadily since she started and even more over the last three years.

“I’d say maybe over 50 percent present symptoms of depression,” she said. “Life is very stressful, so I don’t think it’s just school. I think people are juggling multiple demands. They’re going to school full time, they’re working full time.”

Reeves said there has also been an increase in the number of students registering with Student Accessibility Services who have Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.

“They benefit more from time management education,” she said. “Time management and just general life skills are some of the things we will counsel students on.”

Other than hiring another psychologist, these new numbers have prompted Reeves to increase the promotion of Psychological Services and encourage students to go the Student Recreation and Wellness Center.

“Once you know that all universities are dealing with this, you work with your professional colleagues, you develop programs,” Reeves said. “The good news is – it’s not just Kent.”

Contact administration reporter Ben Wolford at [email protected].