Students seek university counseling at increased rates

Students seek university counseling at increased rates

By Elizabeth zinchuk

Universities nationwide have seen an increased amount of students who seek counseling, and the university has seen its rate climb even higher than the national average.

According to a survey reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the number of college students with severe psychological problems who seek help continues to increase. Counseling center director Rosemary Simmons said the average percentage of students who visit the counseling center for an institution the university’s size is 8.4 percent. Before April 19, she said, 11.95 percent of university students have visited the campus’ center.

Simmons cited everything from people becoming more open to seeking help to end-of-semester stressors such as approaching finals as reasons for the increased numbers.


“The stressors keep rising,” Simmons said. “Financial stress, social anxiety and all the things that happen around the world, with the quickness of the media, every bad event that happens is known.”

She said anxiety has surpassed depression as the most frequent issue students come to the counseling center for. Peer support is important for coping with the illness, she said.

“The best thing to provide people with mental illnesses is to give them a sense of normality and validity that their concerns are acceptable,” Simmons said. 

The counseling center has tried to provide resources to new students on campus this year through the University College 101 class and connecting with University Housing and resident assistants, she said.

Despite reaching out to new students, she said, the counseling center sees freshmen the least.

“Freshmen are usually pretty optimistic, and think they have time to fix a problem,” Simmons said. “A junior tends to think they have one or two years to fix their problem, so they will come in more often than a freshman.”

Simmons said she has worked to spread the word about the counseling center’s benefits. Several students said they would feel comfortable taking advantage of the center if needed, and one staff member said the resources the center provides can benefit any student who seeks them out.


Alex Bennett, a sophomore from Bloomington studying cinema-photography, said he thought about visiting the counseling center after he endured a tough time last year.

“I was considering going to talk with a counselor after I had a breakup,” he said.

Cristina Romero, a senior from Cicero studying animal science, said she has known about the counseling center and would not object to a visit. She said she was not surprised the number of students who seek help has risen.

“I think there has been a large move toward awareness for the importance of having a stable mind and maintaining mental health,” she said.

Associate psychology professor Meera Komarraju said it is a good thing for students to have resources that cater to their mental health.

“Students need resources especially during this time when finals can be very stressful,” Komarraju said.

Students who change their environment by going away to college have their stress levels affected, she said.

“If (students) are far from home it can be hard to manage stress at first,” she said. “Students often go to deal with immediate stress or something that has been chronic.”

Komarraju said students may have dealt with mental illnesses in high school without recognizing it, which would leave the incoming freshmen class to retain those issues through college. She said stigmas such as students who consider mental illnesses not as important as physical illnesses are prevents fewer students from seeking help as knowledge about mental illnesses becomes more available.