More college students flock to counseling centers

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Reporter - Kendall Downing

CARBONDALE, Ill. - College counseling centers across the country are reporting a startling trend. The number of students coming in for services each year just keeps going up.

An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education references the annual study of 400 counseling center directors. They all reported increases in the number of patients as a whole and also those with major mental health issues. Nearly one hundred of those directors surveyed said many students using their services were already prescribed mood-altering drugs.

College students Local 6 talked with said they're facing increased pressure from all sides.

SIU-Carbondale freshmen Jackie Lewinthal and Sarah Hopkins have something in common, other than their class schedules.

"I didn't want anxiety to overpower what I'm here for and why I'm studying," said Lewinthal.

Both have made recent trips to the university's counseling center.

"I didn't expect to come here and be as stressed as I am," said Hopkins.

And statistics show those two are not alone.

"There are concerns in the future, and we may need to be looking at seeking more personnel," said Dr. Frank Kosmicki, Chief Psychologist at SIU-Carbondale's Counseling Center.

Kosmicki said the center saw 10% of the overall student population in 2011, 12% in 2012, and they are on track to see 13% this year.

Depression has typically been the most common diagnosis, but now, anxiety has taken the top spot.

"That spike in anxiety is really alarming. It kind of speaks to the state of the world today," said Kosmicki.

Kosmicki said this generation of students is dealing with more stress. College now is more expensive, and jobs, once they get out of the classroom, aren't guaranteed.

"It's definitely not embarrassing," said Lewinthal.

Jackie Lewinthal said her peers are more willing to talk about their anxiety and depression.

And as she and Sarah Hopkins get ready for finals, both agree more students getting help isn't a shock.

"It doesn't surprise me," said Hopkins.

Counseling centers at The University of Tennessee - Martin and Southeast Missouri State University also took part in the study.

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