It’s no secret that the collective state of our nation’s mental health is in the gutter. School shootings. Depression statistics on the rise. Increased social media usage. The list is virtually endless. Let’s put aside the reasons for why this is. Every individual is unique, and thus every situation needs to be handled differently. Trying to find one unifying reason is impossible. However, there are solutions, or to be blunt, a unified solution, that can help. And, it’s right in front of our faces, and has been for a long, long time. That solution? Professional help.
However, before we get into therapy and its associations, today we’ll be focusing on a more important problem: mental health on college campuses. Yes, mental health is a nation-wide epidemic. However, the situation on university campuses is far worse. In fact, while we can potentially reduce the disastrous mental health statistics for the general population, no solution has been in sight for college-aged people with mental disorders.
There are a wealth of articles that provide statistics on just how bad colleges fair in this regard (see here and here, and these are only two examples). If you’re too lazy to open those articles, allow us to give you a short breakdown: 35% of first year college students suffer from a mental illness.
The fact that many of these students pay exorbitant fees to attend these universities while not being able to receive the appropriate help is ridiculous. Other articles have pointed out that colleges cannot meet the demands of students with mental disorders. In short, colleges are seeing consistently increasing numbers of students using their respective counseling centers and lack the manpower to cope with it. What’s likely holding back universities from employing more help is limited financial resources. This leaves students to fend for themselves, a very difficult undertaking especially for vulnerable individuals.
The above picture is clear: there is nothing to be done. Mental illness is on the rise and colleges do not have the capabilities of helping. This would have been a massive problem just ten years ago. However, with the emergence of technology, perhaps there is a solution in sight after all.
Technology has helped millions. From iPhones to VoIP, tech has had a major impact on the world over the past few decades. Health is no different here. We are seeing the emergence of software and mobile apps that are helping change the landscape within several health niches, including the aforementioned therapy niche. This begs the question: can something be done with technology regarding the state of mental health on college campuses? The answer to this is yes, and it has existed for a few years already.
Telehealth has actually been an idea for quite some time, and is now considered to be a real solution for students. The technology behind it may be complicated but the idea is simple. A student can connect with a therapist through chat, video or phone – whenever and wherever he/she desires. Several companies offer their services which are completely discreet and low cost. Some companies are even offering financial aid to customers. While there are downsides (such as the lack of face to face support), the benefits seem to outweigh the downsides.
Besides, there is no real alternative for helping to eradicate this epidemic. College administration should strongly consider and encourage their students to turn to this type of therapy should they require it.