College Students Often Need Therapy



College students are experiencing strikingly high rates of psychological difficulties. A recent study made public by the University of Wisconsin surveyed community college students across the country, more than 4,000 of them actually ( Hope Lab – Too Distressed To Learn (Final).pdf).

Of this number, over half self-identified as having a “current or recent mental health condition.”  Yet, only one-half of these with difficulties were getting any help at all.  Thus, 25%, only 1,000 of the 4,000, were receiving services, when double that number probably needed some help – probably 2,000.  Students 25 years old, or less, were even more likely to have issues that were left untreated.

Other surveys have shown that one-third of students at four year universities or colleges were experiencing psychological difficulties.  Campus shootings, or shootings by young adults who were identified as having had psychological issues while they were a student (often untreated), have brought much attention to the issue of mental illness and violence. Yet, there are broader and less dramatic challenges that have gone largely ignored: the more typical student who is experiencing depression, anxiety, drug or alcohol use, eating disorders, or other difficulties that go without help.  Other students have struggles with attention or focus, or perhaps learning deficits, often not identified either.  Clearly, there are a large number of these young people.  If one extrapolates the findings to the 11 million students in community college, it is a large number indeed:  probably about 5 million students in need, and less than 2.5 million getting any help.

A personal communication with one resident advisor at an Ivy League College revealed a frequent occurrence: his walking a severely depressed or anxious student over to student health services at all hours of the day when the student is in crisis.  Too many of our best and brightest, and most highly motivated young people, are suffering, often without getting any substantial help at all.  All too often the help involves a prescription for medication without any ongoing support or therapy.  Of course this impacts their academic success, their quality of life, and even their survival in the more severe cases of a suicide risk.

As health insurance coverage for many people has expanded in recent years, at least some basic psychological services are now covered for many people, often with minimal co-payments.  Many psychologists are part of these plans, or are willing to see young people at reduced fees.  And, many colleges are hiring counselors in an attempt to respond to this need.  Some help is often available, if students can be identified and directed towards services.

Dr. Alan M. Solomon, a psychologist in private practice in Torrance, CA, is a member of the Independent Psychotherapy Network.  He can be reached at (310) 539-2772 or


Copyright 2018 by Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.

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