When you consider some of the following data about the college experience of SUNY Cortland students and college students nationally, you can appreciate the importance of addressing emotional issues with students.
Each year, at SUNY Cortland, the Counseling Center staff see in excess of 1,000 student clients for up to 2,800 individual counseling sessions and receive over 400 requests for counseling, consultations and information each year. The leading issues relate to relationships, depression and anxiety. 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. According to the National College Health Assessment (Spr '06),
- 12.5% of college students nationally reported some type of sexual assault in the past year.
- 15.5 % of students nationally reported being in an abusive relationship.
How do students cope with violence, discrimination, depression and anxiety? Sometimes through unhealthy coping mechanisms such as eating disorders and substance abuse.
The National Eating Disorders Association, (NEDA) 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, 10.8% 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 campuses.
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.