Limited and short-term: How mental healthcare is dispensed on US college campuses

We surveyed more than 40 schools to shine a light on flaws in the system


The Tab’s mental health survey has found half of American college students (51 percent) have suffered or are suffering from a mental illness.

Of these, an overwhelming volume – 58 percent – battled with mental health issues before age of 16, arriving at university with problems already ongoing.

The most common diagnoses were for anxiety and depression, with 59 percent of students suffering with at least one.

The survey of 2,400 students at over 40 schools demonstrated the troubling way mental health is being handled on college campuses and the startling lack of support students have access to.

Of the students who sought help at university, 26 percent of responses claimed the services were “not very useful”  or “unhelpful.”

Over 400 students said they didn’t seek out services at college.

Many students spoke about the difficulty of accessing help on campus due to long wait times for an appointment.

A Bucknell student was forced to attend a shorter walk-in appointment: “I called the CSDC to make an appointment, but they didn’t have a free spot available for two weeks.”

According to a Penn State, the wait time for an appointment was “five weeks.”

Students at the University of Illinois were given a limit on the number of appointments permitted per semester:

“When I tried to go to the mental health center at Illinois, there were never any appointments open. I was told I had to call at 7:50 AM to get an appointment (there were only maybe 10-15 available a day at a campus of 44,000 students), and you were only allowed 3 appointments per semester.”

This is not to say that the this is the case for every university surveyed. Some respondents expressed gratitude for the support of their university.

A student at Florida State University said: “I utilized the free counseling services offered here at FSU starting in the summer of 2015. My therapist helped me so much. After a few months I reduced down to just as-needed appointments and never had to use medicine because they helped me identify coping mechanisms.”

A UVA student had a similarly positive experience.

“After I realized that my feelings and experiences weren’t normal, I decided to seek help from counseling at UVA, and it helped immensely.”

This is the first article in a series which delves deeper into the survey’s results, aiming to present an honest picture of mental health support at US colleges.

If you’d like to share your story about suffering with a mental illness, email [email protected]