Tuesday, December 21, 2010

1 Counselor for Every 1,600 Students

The American College Counseling Association recently conducted its annual survey. The survey examined on-campus counseling services including the number of students an average seeking treatment, the number of students afflicted with psychological problems and the availability of counseling services. Some of the findings were downright disheartening.

The ACCA has found in recent years that the number of students with psychological problems has increased. The 2010 survey reaffirmed this trend with 91 percent of campus counseling directors surveyed noticing the trend. In addition, directors have noticed increases in individuals with psychiatric medication issues, self-injury issues and crisis issues requiring immediate response.

Although the number of students with sever psychological problems has increased over the past five years, the number of students taking advantage of counseling and the availability of counseling services has not increased accordingly.

Of the 133 student suicides reported by the campuses surveyed only 13 percent of these individuals were seeking or had sought counseling. The remaining 87 percent had not sought any counseling which raises some important questions and concerns. Why hadn’t these students sought help that they clearly needed? Were they unaware of their campus’ counseling services? Were they too afraid or embarrassed to seek help? Or were the counseling services simply inadequate or unavailable? The survey doesn’t provide answers for all of the questions, but it does provide some clues.

According to the survey, the on-campus counselor to student ratio is 1 to 1,600. The ratios at smaller schools are better, but given the abundance of students with psychological problems it is surprising that the ratio has not changed by much over the past few years (according to the 2008 and 2009 surveys).

The survey also says that 28.6 percent of counseling centers report a waiting list problem during the busy time of the year. Although counselors and directors are doing the best with the services they can provide, these findings just provide more evidence that on-campus counseling services are simply not adequate to handle the number of students seeking them