Anxiety, Depression Impacting YSU Students

By Rachel Gobep

The Youngstown State University Student Counseling Services saw a total of 247 students since the fall 2017 semester, with anxiety and depression being the top presented mental health issues exhibited.

Forty-three percent of the students utilizing the counseling services have expressed anxiety issues, while 16.5 percent exhibit depression. Another 11 percent expressed relationship concerns, according to data collected by the Student Counseling Services.

The majority of students using the services are women, with 66 percent identifying as a woman, 31 percent men and one percent transgender.

Additionally, when asked how long they have experienced their problem, 50 percent said years and 29 percent reported months.

Ann Jaronski, director of student counseling services, said this means the issues that bring a person to counseling are long-standing and did not begin within a couple weeks.

When asked how often they experienced their problem, 48 percent reported daily and 13 percent reported hourly. Jaronski said the problems bringing people to counseling are troubling them frequently and intensely.

It is reported that 23 percent of the students said their problem was severe and 62 percent moderate.

Jaronski said students must wait about six business days to get an appointment with the Student Counseling Services, unless there is an emergency.

According to a Time magazine article on March 19, the average university has one counselor for every 1,737 students, which is fewer than the recommended minimum of one for every 1,000 to 1,500 students by the International Association of Counseling Services.

YSU currently has two counselors, Jaronski and Anne Lally, and 11,872 students, as reported in the spring 2018 semester.

Jaronski said it would be beneficial for her to work directly with a psychiatrist, instead of outsourcing, which leads to a long process for students. She said after students are evaluated by her and she believes they may benefit from seeing a psychiatrist, they then must go through the same process again.

She said the students will see another licensed clinician at a psychiatric facility and then have the ability to see a psychiatrist.

This process can take six weeks, but sometimes more. Jaronski said this can become problematic because if a student comes to her in the middle of the semester, they may not have the ability to see a psychiatrist until the end of the semester. She said this could lead to declination of grades, along with other issues.

Recently, students at YSU voted in favor to pass a Student Health Center Fee of $34 per semester. The health center will include access to psychiatric services, which will be available for two half-days per week and will supplement the mental health, behavioral health and addiction treatment offered by Student Counseling Services.

This could be a solution to this issue of outsourcing, according to Jaronski, because she will have direct access to a psychiatrist.

Rayann Atway, president of the YSU Student Government Association, said students can take an active role in discussing mental health by seeking appropriate care if needed and by advising others to do the same.

“Many students feel that their situations aren’t serious enough to warrant getting help, but delaying help will only exacerbate the problem,” Atway said. “We are very fortunate to have two amazing counselors, Ann and Anne, and they are definitely able to assist our students with their needs.”

Atway said SGA wants to continue their movement toward speaking up on behalf of others.

“By hosting the Mental Health Advocacy Training each year, we are able to build awareness on present mental health concerns on college campuses and learn about the importance of talking about mental health and suicide at YSU,” she said.

According to a Jambar article, Lally, the assistant director of counseling services, said YSU students, faculty and staff should be involved in the training day because the campus is a community.

“This training [provides] each individual with an understanding of a person in crisis,” she said. “Whether your friend, coworker, roommate, classmate, peer, family member, etc. approaches you with a crisis we will have learned skills to listen, support and refer from this day.”

The SGA hosts MHAT annually to educate students, staff and faculty on mental health issues and has seen an increase of participants since last year. Sixty people participated in the 2017 training day, while 140 took part on April 5, according to Atway.

Jaronski said she would love to see students take an active role in advocating for increased mental health services on campus, specifically in Student Counseling Services. She said advocating for another full-time counselor, psychotherapy and support groups would be beneficial.

She also said students should discuss mental health and wellness, “not only in their own lives, but in the lives of those they care about.”