College Students ... Mental Health Issues

December 8, 2008 10:11:35 PM PST
A new national study shows mental health issues among college students are more common than people think. But relatively few students are seeking treatment.The study released in the archives of general psychiatry shows almost one in five ... or twenty percent of young adults has some sort of mental health problem. More than 5-thousand young people aged 19 to 25 were interviewed for the study. Only 25 percent or a fourth of those with a mental health issue admitted seeking help.

Nineteen year old Leonard Torres is a student at Reedley College. He's been through the depths of depression. He's even written a book of poems on the subject. He says, "For me it was hard because I didn't really want to tell anybody. You feel damaged and in some ways maybe that's another reason why cuz they don't want people to feel sorry for them.

He has 20-something friends he knows are struggling with mental health problems but they don't seek help. Instead, he says, they often self-medicate. He says, "In high school, you had a clique. Well you don't have cliques in college. You don't have your best friends there. You all separated. And so now to fit in they now do a lot of drugs at parties."

Gena Gechter, a clinical psychologist at Fresno State, doesn't believe mental health problems are any greater than they were 20 years ago ... she says limited health insurance or lack of community resources is keeping young people from seeking help until they're older. She says then, they're often too busy to get help. She says "They work. They have family lives. A lot of them live at home and contribute to the family well-being. In terms of helping out, a lot of them have jobs. Some of them are married with children. A lot of the reasons students give us is 'I haven't had the time to come in.'"

Fresno State has taken steps to train campus leaders and faculty to look for signs of problems. Several times a year they set up stations around campus with informational fliers in hopes of helping even one student.

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