When you consider some of the following
data about the college experience of Penn State students and college
students nationally, you can appreciate the importance of addressing
emotional issues with students.
Each year, at Penn State's University Park campus,
CAPS staff see in excess of 2,500 student clients for up to 16,000
in-person treatment contacts. 40% are diagnosed with an anxiety
disorder and half are diagnosed with a mood disorder such as
Nationally, suicide is the third leading cause
of death for young adults. Suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts
are even more common. It's estimated that there are 100-200 attempts
for every completed suicide among young adults.
Many mental health disorders first manifest themselves in adulthood.
In any year approximately 15% of the population will experience
an anxiety disorder, 10% will experience major depression, and
1% will experience bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. These conditions
are often first experienced and diagnosed during the college years.
Violence in society and in relationships impacts
university students as well. Every year approximately 100 students
report sexual assaults on Penn State's University Park campus.
Generally, 99 of these are women students and one per year is
a male student.
According to recent Penn State Pulse surveys of
the student body:
" 10% of female students reported being sexually assaulted,
" 12% reported being stalked, and
" 9% encountered relationship violence.
According to a Penn State Pulse Survey
" 11% of students reported experiencing or observing discrimination
on campus based on sexual orientation
" 10% reported experiencing or witnessing racial or ethnic
" In addition, religious, age, gender and disability discrimination
are also reported
" 4% experienced or witnessed religious discrimination
" 3% reported age and gender discrimination and
" 2% reported discrimination based on disability
How do students cope with violence, discrimination,
depression and anxiety? Sometimes through unhealthy coping mechanisms
such as Eating Disorders and Substance Abuse.
The Eating Disorder Awareness and Prevention organization,
(EDAP), reports conservative research estimates of Eating Disorder
prevalence as 5 to10% of young women and 1% of young men.
According to the CORE Institute's national
study of college student drinking, 10% of college students nationally
were concerned that they might have a problem with alcohol.
Given the denial that tends to be associated with
alcohol problems, we can guess that many more should be concerned.
A third have reported memory loss while drinking.
The use of drugs like Ecstasy, Oxycontin, cocaine, LSD
and Heroin also lead to emergency room visits for some students
and even deaths. These drugs, added to the ever present alcohol
and marijuana, can make for a dangerous drug environment on our
All of these statistics make your role extremely
important since you are in a position to interact with, and potentially
identify and refer students who are experiencing distress due
to life or internal difficulties.
NEXT: TIPS FOR RECOGNIZING DISTRESS