The Crisis on Campus

Do a Google search of the word “crisis” and you will find countless results. Okay, that’s not true. Google is counting. There are approximately 1,030,000,000 search results (and counting). Topping the list of crises are opioid crisis, refugee crisis, climate crisis, crisis in Sudan, and crisis on earth (this is a live-action television series starring superheroes – go figure). A fairly new member to this list is “crisis on campus,” as a recent article from the Los Angeles Times entitled “There’s a Loneliness Crisis on College Campuses,” illustrates.

“According to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health, the increase in utilization rates for counseling centers across the country over the last five years has greatly outpaced the increase in student enrollment, and as a result, schools have trouble hiring enough mental health counselors to keep up with growing demand. The most recent Healthy Minds Survey, an annual report on mental health on college and university campuses, found that one-third of undergraduate students in the United States wrestle with some kind of mental health issue, while more than 10% struggle with thoughts of suicide.”[1]

A related article in Time, ‘Record Numbers of College Students Are Seeking Treatment for Depression and Anxiety — But Schools Can’t Keep Up,’ supports the crisis moniker. 

“Nearly 40% of college students said they had felt so depressed in the prior year that it was difficult for them to function, and 61% of students said they had “felt overwhelming anxiety” in the same time period, according to an American College Health Association survey of more than 63,000 students at 92 schools.”[2]

Foreign Affairs Magazine calls the loneliness crisis one of mental health in: ‘Generation Stress – The Mental Health Crisis on Campus’:

“The rise in mental health challenges is not limited to college students. One in every four adults in the United States will suffer from an anxiety disorder in the course of his or her lifetime, and suicide rates for men and women have risen since 2000. Whether these figures are a passing trend, the new normal, or a harbinger of greater challenges to come, one cannot fully know. But no matter what, universities need to deal with this uptick in psychological distress. No longer can they consider students’ mental health to be outside their area of responsibility.”[3]

These three articles are just the tip of the iceberg. Many, many articles illuminate the crisis (remember the 1,030,000,000 search results?); not many shine light on possible solutions. The articles often blame schools and advocate for combating loneliness with things like reduced screen time, more civic involvement, more counselors…all good antidotes to loneliness and its genesis, social isolation.

The growing awareness and social costs of loneliness have led to a number of loneliness reduction interventions. Qualitative reviews have identified four primary intervention strategies:

  1. Improving social skills
  2. Enhancing social support
  3. Increasing opportunities for social contact
  4. Addressing maladaptive social cognition. [4]

Simply put, maladaptive cognition and behaviors are those thoughts, actions, and habits we engage to cope in challenging social and performance situations. Passivity, avoidance, anger, isolation are key examples. In an attempt to manage anxiety, we often worsen it by doing the very things that keep us from adjusting.

According to the American Psychological Association, Loneliness is an established risk factor for physical and mental dysregulation. [5] The loneliness crisis on campus is real. This is where Focus Collegiate comes in with recognized strategies that help students successfully manage the demands of daily life on campus.

These interventions are simple, but not necessarily easy. By identifying and creating opportunities, plans, and prompts for engagement and meaningful social contact, we help students start to form new neural pathways for adaptive thoughts and behaviors that allow for responses that make situations more positive.

Success builds upon itself and students begin to reap the rewards of their self-actualized progress. Learn more about how it works here.






Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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