U.Va. students increasingly seeking mental health aid

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Echoing a national trend, students at the University of Virginia are seeking out psychological help in record numbers, school health officials said.

The number of U.Va. students seeking appointments at the university’s office of Counseling and Psychological Services rose 25 percent in the past year, Executive Director of Student Health Dr. Chris Holstege told The Daily Progress (http://bit.ly/1V9fcIg).

The increase follows a 19 percent rise over the past 10 years, with appointments outpacing student growth, Holstege said. In order to meet this increasing demand, Holstege said his office has hired four more people to work in his department during the upcoming school year.

“As you can imagine, there’s a whole spectrum of our students and what they’re seeking,” Holstege said of the students’ needs. “Some have psychiatric medication; others have mild anxiety.”

A recent Center for Collegiate Mental Health survey shows students’ use of psychological services to have grown by about 25 percent at 93 major universities in the past six years.

The national report identifies depression, anxiety and social anxiety as the most common reasons students are reaching for help.

The increase demonstrates that more students are comfortable seeking help, counselors said. On the other hand, Holstege said more students are entering college while already dealing with significant amounts of stress and anxiety. Administrators aren’t sure which groups — transfer students, for example, or international students — are most at risk, he said.

In order to fill that void, Holstege said the university is sifting through survey data. According to the national survey, about 20 percent of students schedule 50 percent of all appointments. About 66 percent of people seeking help are female, and 30 percent report past experiences of sexual assault, rape, stalking or intimate-partner violence.

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