It’s no secret that students are stressed. With reports of longer, more difficult SAT tests, stricter application processes, and unprecedented pressure to succeed for the duration of college, professors and administrators are working smarter to identify signs of mental distress.
The 23-campus California State University system (and quite a few community colleges) has implemented a simple protocol of “see something, say something, do something.” Not to be confused with standard transportation procedure, faculty are encouraged to intervene at the first signs a student may be troubled. Unfortunately, as counseling services remain at an all-time high, it has become increasingly important for faulty to recognize warning signs and red flags. Some red flags are defined as severe decline in quality of work or grades, weight gain or loss, or panicked reactions or severe apathy.
As the nation has become particularly sensitive to the issue of gun violence, timely and efficient action has become a campus priority. Recent incidents stemming from universities around the country have ignited a focus on ways to detect potential harm at an earlier stage. Of course, a good way to go about this is by designing a uniform manual that can be used by any faculty member regardless of their home institution. The 2004 Mental Health Services Act has been able to partially fund the initiative to provide campus-wide training programs.
Just last year, the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State University presented a report stating student mental distress has increased substantially over the past few years. A 2013 UC, Cal State survey concluded that 19% of students admitted to psychological distress within 30 days prior to the study; 12% of students reported feeling hopeless; and 8% to 10% admitted to feeling absolutely depressed. Even now, upwards of 37% of students across 10 UC campuses report feeling anxiety-related performance issues.
As many colleges have taken a positive step forward, focusing on preventative measures, many students still do not receive adequate information regarding community help services or resources. Students seeking professional help for depression, stress, and anxiety is a growing national trend. Perhaps the new California State University system guidelines and training will help identify distressed students sooner.