Counseling Now Seen as Vital in College Education

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( — September 13, 2016) — College education involves many challenges that some new students are not prepared to face. Contrary to high school, this first stage into higher education requires more skills and exposes young people to students coming from varied nationalities and countries.

As college students struggle through their academics, many eventually end up having psychological problems. A survey done by the Association or University and College Counseling Center Directors has confirmed the growing number of students with psychological issues. The research found that anxiety is a top concern among college students followed by depression and relationship woes. Another survey done in 2015 by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State showed that half of all students visiting counseling services in college are suffering from anxiety.

It is for this reason that counseling has become highly important among universities particularly in the U.S. these days. A number of universities are now committed to educating their students not only on academics but as well as on the ways to cope with life’s trials.

Causes of Stress and Anxiety

Unlike in the past, it is a sad reality today that college students are more anxious, bullied and stressed. Factors that contributed to this problem are social media and the so-called 24/7 culture.

Research has also shown that many students have poor decision making skills and find it hard to cope with unpleasant and unexpected things. This difficulty sometimes leads to depression and worse, thoughts of ending their lives.

Another factor is substance abuse. It is a fact that some students attending colleges and universities are turning to illicit drugs to help them cope with their problems. When not treated early, this could lead to addiction as well as attempted suicides or threats of violence against other people.

School counselors also noted that some of this stress experienced by students are developmental in nature. This is especially true among the freshmen who need to learn to live on their own away from home and adjust to a new roommate while at the same time coping with their academics.

An overload of anxiety has been observed as well among the so-called overachievers. This type of college students often feel the pressure of doing everything right and making good grades in their various assignments such as writing an academic project including research papers and thesis, doing internships and other extra-curricular activities.

With these psychological problems becoming a major concern, colleges and universities should take action and implement more relevant programs to help students cope with their academic and personal issues. In the U.S., the American Psychological Association (APA) has an existing Campus Suicide Prevention initiative that provides education on suicide prevention among college campuses and conducts outreach services. College counseling centers are also responsible for coming up with creative solutions to manage their growing cases.

In addition, the expansion of special education programs even in the elementary and high schools can make a significant impact on students and prepare them well as they enter college.

Studies have shown that a strong support for mental and behavioral health can be a huge help in improving a student’s life. Counseling plays a vital role in assisting students in their academics and personal well-being. A survey covering directors of college counseling centers has found that more than half or 59 percent of their clients admitted that counseling greatly helped them to continue their studies while 60 percent said the process led them to improve their academic performance. 

On the other hand if their issues are taken for granted, there’s a possibility that it can cause disruptive behavior that can in turn adversely affect other people they interact with such as their classmates, roommates, faculty and school staff. 

Parents and guardians also have an important role to play here. They need to be involved and be more observant of their child’s behavior. It is only when unusual behavior is spotted early that problems can also be resolved soonest.