Colleges and universities are not remote to the complexities of today’s mental health and well-being concerns. Campuses have consistently reported an increase in the prevalence, complexity and severity of these issues. This year, the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) has focused its attention on the mental health issues faced by students on campus and the dynamics of the level of care available.
What is NASPA?
Established in 1918 and founded in 1919, NASPA is comprised of over 15,000 members in all 50 states, eight U.S. territories and 25 other countries. NASPA’s mission is to provide professional development for student affairs educators and administrators through conferences, workshops, research and online learning. As the stigma surrounding mental health deteriorates, student affairs practitioners continue to face and adapt to new challenges.
NASPA’s Lead Initiative on Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement comprises a network of 74 NASPA member colleges and universities committed to encouraging and highlighting the work of student affairs in making civic learning and democratic engagement a part of every student’s college education.
Psychological concerns among students
NASPA believes that mental health and well-being are necessary for meaningful learning, making it critical for institutions of higher education to develop services that are accessible to students while removing stigma from seeking the needed help. If left untreated, these problems can threaten students’ emotional and social development alongside their academic retention and success.
Findings in the latest survey by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors show that mental illness has become common in college campuses:
- Anxiety was the leading concern among college students (41.6 percent), followed by depression (36.4 percent) and relationship problems (35.8 percent)
- 5 percent of clients took psychotropic medications. Nineteen percent of directors reported inadequate psychiatric services on their campus
- Around 21 percent of counseling center students was implicated by severe mental health concerns, while another 40 percent had mild mental health concerns
According to the survey, 70 percent of the college directors believed the number of students with psychological problems on their campus to have increased in the past year. About 95 percent believed psychological problems on campus to be a growing concern.
NASPA’s mental health initiative
In light of this alarming trend, the 2016 NASPA Strategies Conference: Mental Health focuses on giving student affairs practitioners, tools to effectively address student mental health through integrative approaches.
The conference aims to:
- Evaluate the range of student mental health problems on campus and better comprehend the related current trends and issues
- Discover and compare ideas to promote increased access and education to mental health services for students
- Engage in conversations about inventive programming to support student mental health
- Understand the fundaments to successful cross-campus collaboration in mental health services
- Explore how mental health intersects with violence prevention and response and substance abuse on campus to develop and enhance prevention, intervention and response.
The conference begins on Jan. 21 and will occur simultaneously with NASPA’s other two conferences on substance abuse and violence prevention.
Mental health issues continue to impact students in course learning and campus engagement. White River Academy is at the forefront of treating and destigmatizing these disorders to reach out to students and adolescents in need. If you or a loved one is struggling to accomplish your true potential, contact us right away through our 24/7 helpline.
Written by Sana Ahmed.