Over the last five years, the UO Counseling Center has had a 32 percent increase in appointments. This is comparable to universities nationally, which have seen a 30-40 percent increase, according to UO Counseling Center assistant director Alisia Caban. Caban cited a wide range of factors for what has caused this increase.
“There’s good prevention programming and outreach and awareness-building; so those are plus sides of it. And school is stressful, I think the socio-political climate is stressful,” said Caban. “School is expensive and students — they are feeling the stress.”
Mental health issues are not only a problem at the UO. In the U.S., 75 percent of all mental health conditions begin by age 24, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. With this high number of students dealing with mental illness and seeking help, the UO Counseling Center is treating more students. In addition to hiring five new clinicians this year, routine appointments are up 36 percent, according to Caban.
“We are just trying to get enough clinicians to be able to provide that support, so we’re able to get students in and also provide them with treatment,” said Caban.
With a higher percentage of students seeking help for mental health issues, there is also a large percentage of students who would be accepting of friends with mental health issues.
Last year, UO conducted a Healthy Minds Survey which was sent out to 4,000 UO students, and it received 840 responses. Of those who responded to the survey, about 97 percent of them agreed with the statement “I would willingly accept someone who has received mental health treatment as a close friend.”
Healthy Minds Network is an online survey company that works with universities across the U.S. to study mental illness. Eighty-two percent of UO students who responded to the survey said they would keep their mental health concern to themselves.
“So it’s like you have students who are more likely to keep it to [themselves], but they are saying ‘oh yeah I would totally accept somebody as a friend,” said Caban.
The UO counseling center is not the only place available for students seeking counseling if they are struggling with mental health issues. The Center for Healthy Relationships serves clients from both the UO community and the larger Eugene community as part of the UO College of Education. The CHR is staffed by graduates who are earning their Masters in Couples and Family Therapy.
“Our services are really focused on understanding individuals within their context,” said Carly Brynelson, a therapist-in-training at CHR. “We are going to look at the person in terms of how they fit into their ecosystem.”
One difference between the CHR and the UO Counseling Center is that the sessions at the CHR cost money. The first appointment costs $15 dollars and then costs for services are established using a sliding scale fee structure that has a minimum of $15 per session, according to Brynelson.