Academic journal article Journal of College Counseling

Assessing and Promoting Resilience: An Additional Tool to Address the Increasing Number of College Students with Psychological Problems

Academic journal article Journal of College Counseling

Assessing and Promoting Resilience: An Additional Tool to Address the Increasing Number of College Students with Psychological Problems

Article excerpt

This study examined the assessment of resilience in undergraduate college students. Multigroup comparisons of the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC; Connor & Davidson, 2003) were performed on general population students and students recruited from campus mental health offices offering college counseling, psychiatric-support, and disability-support services. Results found that the 10-item CD-RISC demonstrated strong fit and reliability, with significantly higher scores for general population students. Implications for college counseling include assessing and promoting resilience on campuses.

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Resilience is a relatively new research concept that has emerged to explain why some individuals behave adaptively under great stress whereas others do not (Masten, 2001). With respect to college counseling, research on resilience may result in studies that better inform college counseling practice. College counseling leaders are currently struggling to address the increasing number of students with psychological problems (Beamish, 2005; Smith et al., 2007). In 1990, Stone and Archer first noted the "increasing numbers of students with serious psychological problems" (p. 543). More recently, Benton, Robertson, Tseng, Newton, and Benton (2003) reported that college counseling centers have struggled to address the growing demand for psychological services. Blacklock, Benson, Johnson, and Bloomberg (2003) reported that the impact of untreated psychological problems on campus providers has been staggering in terms of staff hours. The increasing number of students with psychological problems has resulted in many campus providers disclaiming responsibility for those students' problems because of a lack of resources (Mowbray et al., 2006). At the same time, recent tragedies such as the Virginia Tech shooting (Urbina, 2007) have brought increased scrutiny to how college counseling centers monitor and support the mental health needs of today's college students.

Recent estimates of the prevalence of psychological problems on college campuses are as high as 30% (Eisenberg, Golberstein, & Gollust, 2007). Researchers have demonstrated that students with psychological problems are at a high risk for college dropout. On the basis of a national survey, Kessler, Foster, Saunders, and Stang (1995) found that 86% of students with mental health disorders dropped out of college without completing a degree. This is twice as high as the general college dropout rate, which is estimated to be between 30% and 40% (A. W. Astin & Oseguera, 2005; Porter, 1990). As a result, college counselors are being asked to support increasing numbers of college students with psychological problems with fewer resources; in essence, counselors are being asked to "do more with less" (Smith et al., 2007, p. 64). In response, college counselors have started to collaborate with other campus providers "to educate the campus community regarding mental illness and psychological distress" (Nolan, Ford, Kress, Anderson, & Novak, 2005, p. 173). As an additional resource for this endeavor, assessing and promoting resilience may provide college campuses with an asset-based approach to prevent students' psychological problems from becoming more severe. Because it is difficult to eliminate all college stressors (e.g., financial debt, high-stakes academic pressure, alcohol and drug use; Kadison & DiGeronimo, 2004), an alternative approach is to provide interventions and educational campaigns that assist students to cope more effectively with college stressors and reduce students' levels of psychological distress.

Emerging from the positive psychology movement (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000), resilience is an asset-based approach that can assist college counselors to support college students' mental health needs and promote academic persistence (Steinhardt & Dolbier, 2008). Masten, Best, and Garmezy (1990) defined resilience as "the process of, capacity for, or outcome of successful adaptation despite challenging or threatening circumstances" (p. …

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