How are colleges like UCLA meeting the sudden spike in mental health cases?

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has come up with a novel means for coping with the sudden surge in mental health cases in the university. While earlier, counseling and psychological services were available Monday to Friday by appointment only, the college now provides services around the clock.

Additionally, teletherapy has emerged as the new way to guide and counsel students struggling with anxiety, depression and other mental health challenges in the new normal enforced by the coronavirus pandemic. Not just the University of California, colleges all across America are bracing for what could well be the tip of the iceberg, as there is a steady spike in the number of mental health cases.

A survey, conducted on 46,000 university students from across the country between May to June, made it apparent that the mental health of university students was severely impacted during the pandemic. The survey indicated that a third of the students were struggling with clinical depression and anxiety disorders. Many had suicidal thoughts as they found the future to be rather bleak. Apart from missing out a year in college, they were worried about their finances and the debts they had. For some, the lack of privacy while staying with their parents and grandparents was disconcerting.

Fear of failing grades

Students who were without the means to attend online classes such as reliable wi-fi and laptops were also likely to face mental health issues. Similarly, students unfamiliar with the online medium of instruction were also badly affected in terms of their mental health.

According to lead researcher Igor Chirikov, director of the Student Experience in the Research University Consortium (SERU), a U.C. Berkeley-based group the results of the study were alarming, and therefore either colleges would have to pay attention to the increased demand for intervention or they would see students dropping out as they feared failure.

Dealing with the crises

Universities all across California have incorporated a wide range of steps to help students deal with their mental health issues. Some of these steps include:

  • Incorporating mental health as a part of the syllabus
  • Starting and emphasizing on the use of teletherapy
  • Making crisis hotlines available to students around the clock
  • Lifting the limit on the number of one-on-one sessions
  • Incorporating silent texting so that students do not feel isolated
  • Conducting online workshops on relaxation techniques and other life skills
  • Assigning more group work instead of individual activities

Nance Roy, the chief clinical officer for the Jed Foundation, an organization that works to prevent suicides among teens and young adults, said that college mental health services could get partly lost in all the efforts to shift classes online and keep whoever remains on the campus physically healthy.

“Many, many students are going to need (psychological) support. How college are going to manage that is still undetermined,” said Roy, an assistant clinical psychiatry professor at Yale University. However, despite the best intentions many students still need to wait for long before they can connect to a counselor.


People with pre-existing mental health problems require more attention

People already battling substance use disorders (SUD) or other mental health conditions are particularly vulnerable in this unforeseen situation. It is important that they continue with their treatment and be aware of worsening or new symptoms.

If you or a loved one needs mental health services, get in touch with Medical Concierge. Call our 24/7 helpline 877-636-0042 and talk to our admission counselors for information on inpatient mental health treatment centers. You can also chat online with our representatives for more information about residential treatment centers offering the best inpatient mental health facilities.

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