stounding statistics about what Utah’s colleges are facing were presented at a recent meeting at the Utah Board of Regents. Among the most serious findings reported to the Board include:
- Utah’s college students fall above the national average on depression, thoughts of suicide and serious mental illness.
- During the past academic year, approximately 45 percent of college students felt “so depressed that it was difficult to function.”
- Over the past 15 years, the national suicide rate has increased 24 percent (CDC). Utah’s child suicide rate is more than double the national rate and climbing. Suicide is the leading cause of death among 10-17 year olds in Utah.
- On average, a college student in Utah has to wait four to eight weeks to get an appointment at a counseling center. At some schools, the wait time is as long as 11 weeks.
- On any given Utah campus, typically about 5 percent of students served by counseling centers are homicidal and experience thoughts of harming others. That means, for example, that on any given day, 45 students at the University of Utah and 34 Southern Utah University students experience homicidal thoughts.
- On any given campus, typically about 25-30 percent of students served by counseling centers are suicidal.
- Like most other Western and rural states, Utah lacks sufficient numbers of trained psychologists and psychiatrists to meet the most severe needs. There are no practicing psychiatrists between Utah County and St. George.
- Student safety nets have gaping holes, from the earliest years on up. Utah ranks 50th of the states in K-12 student-to-school counselor ratio (726 students per counselor). The recommended ratio is 250:1.
Signs of mental illness don’t necessarily begin when students enter college, but they bloom in that environment. We need more advocacy and help for our young people. The Utah Board of Regents is now adding its voice and is taking measures to address the issue of mental health on college campuses. Please read the full article appearing in the Deseret News on December 11, 2016 here: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865669040/My-view-Addressing-the-issue-of-mental-health-on-college-campuses.html