ASU students facing anxiety or depression may underutilize on-campus resources

Many students don't reach out for counseling because they don't know the options are there

The pressure is on for many students — but not all reach out for emotional support when they need it.

According to an article from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, ‘College Students Speak,’ 45 percent of students who leave college for mental health-related issues did not receive accommodations and half of that number did not access mental health services. There are many questions that surround why students didn’t utilize services, but the only thing that is sure is that they are not being utilized.

Aaron Krasnow, associate vice president of ASU Health Services and Counseling Services, said counseling services are utilized by 6 to 7 percent of the student body each year.

“Our utilization rate matches the national rates per large universities,” Krasnow said.

Suniya Luthar, a psychology professor at ASU, said the utilization number seemed low to her given the size of the population at ASU and the number of students that seeks help.

“There is a lot of literature out there saying that college campuses are inundated with young adults seeking help with mental health issues," she said. "The story that one generally hears is that there’s way more demand than there are people able to provide help."

Amie Tillyer, a sophomore studying English, said she thinks the utilization rate is low.

“I think if there was more awareness that there was counseling on campus that was inexpensive or available to everybody that more people would use it,” Tillyer said.

Krasnow said information about counseling services is distributed at orientation and other students have found out about services through a search on ASU.edu, from ASU staff and from friends who know about the services. He also said many students might not be aware of services.

“Counseling, like any other service at the university, is always seeking to improve ways that we can make sure that people know about the service,” Krasnow said.



Luthar runs several support groups that seek to create authentic connection networks that will last once the support group has ended. Her graduate students have spread the word by connecting with community assistants to have sessions describing the groups and how students will benefit. 

She said something similar may work for counseling services — getting information into the student system to spread the word instead of relying on just University communications.

“I have a feeling that it has to be more of a grassroots thing,” Luthar said.

Krasnow said anxiety and depression are always the biggest concerns presented when students come in.

According to a 2016 study published on the Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, the stigma of depression that students feel from family and friends may make it less likely for them to seek university counseling.

Luthar said she thinks that the stigma of the words depression and anxiety can scare people away from seeking help or support. She said awareness of support groups and group counseling could avoid some of the stigma.

“It is about having love and support figured out for you on an on-going basis,” Luthar said.


 Reach the reporter at jlneff1@asu.edu or follow @jennaleeneff on Twitter. 

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