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Exploding Demand for College and University Mental Health Services

May 31
A study published in the Toronto Star May 29, 2017 indicates the demand for youth mental health services is exploding.
 
A major survey of 25,164 Ontario university students by the American College Health Association showed that between 2013 and 2016, there was a 50-per-cent increase in anxiety, a 47-per-cent increase in depression and an 86-per-cent increase in substance abuse. Suicide attempts also rose 47 per cent during that period. 
 
On average, the number of counselling appointments increased by 35 per cent.  Because of budget constraints, McMaster University psychiatrist Dr. Catharine Munn said, “We have line-ups out the door and down the hall despite hiring more counsellors, we’re drowning.”
 
The study found there has been a 344-per-cent increase in calls to the Mental Health Helpline run by ConnexOntario (a toll-free mental health services information line) since 2010 by people 25 or younger.
 “No one knows exactly what’s going on,” said Dr. Glenda MacQueen, a professor of psychiatry and vice-dean of the University of Calgary’s medical school.
Reasons for the increased demand include:
  • Youth today are under more pressure than ever before
  • Decreased stigma
  • Increased awareness of on campus services
  • Being away from home and ill prepared to navigate without parental help and less capable of accepting small failures
  • Competitive job market
  • Spending a lot of time on social media and limiting the actual social support from in- person contact
  • Cyber bulling

A Toronto Star/Ryerson survey of 15 universities and colleges across Canada found all but one have increased their mental health budgets over the past five years. The average increase has been 35 per cent.
 
Ryerson clinical coordinator Sarah Thompson said, “additional funding at Ryerson paid for two new counsellor positions, a community service provider and mobile mental health options for students.”
 
This month Ontario announced $6 million in additional annual funding to support mental health services at Ontario’s colleges and universities — bringing the total investment to $45 million over the next three years. The study found with 44 post-secondary institutions vying for their share, many experts say it’s not enough. One-time funding for interventions isn’t a long-term fix, says a report by the Ontario University and College Health Association this month.


Original Article by Robert Cribb, Toronto Star Staff Reporter;  Noella Ovid, Ryerson School of Journalism; David Lao, Munk School of Global Affairs; Blair Bigham, Munk School of Global Affairs

 

Full Article Link: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/05/29/youth-mental-health-demand-is-exploding-how-universities-and-business-are-scrambling-to-react.html