Lori Arend says she could use a revolving door some days for her office at the La Roche College student counseling center.
"I have kids lined up outside my door," said Arend, interim director of La Roche's office of Counseling and Health Services. "I have a couch out there now for them to sit on."
Colleges and universities across the country report that more students are seeking counseling as they wrestle with all sorts of issues: failing grades, binge drinking, roommate conflicts, romantic breakups, suicidal thoughts.
The increase in demand, therapists say, has made it even more crucial to identify the students in the most distress.
James A. Cox Jr., director of the counseling center at the University of Pittsburgh, said counselors at the Oakland campus saw about 500 more students this year than last. He said the increase is a reflection of society: More people in general are suffering from mental health problems, so more students are seeking counseling. Anxiety, depression and relationship issues are the biggest problems, Cox said.
"It's true, we are seeing more," Cox said. "All the data supports that, but that's not just happening in college. It's happening in greater society as well. If there's an increase in demand outside of the university, then that puts more pressure on the university to provide those services."
Ian Birky, director of counseling and psychological services at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, said counselors once worried about people being stigmatized by seeking counseling. Now, he said, offices are "overwhelmed" with students seeking help.
Arend said students seem to be more comfortable talking to counselors about their problems, and parents are quick to seek help for their children. She said parents often approach her during orientation to talk about problems their kids are having.
"I think they see that counseling works, and they just want to know their student has that support here on campus," she said. …