Solving the mental health crisis at colleges

Angelie Rasmussen, student at Utah Valley University

1 in 5 college students said they had suicidal thoughts in 2017.

42% of students felt depressed to the point where they had difficulty functioning last year.

Forty-million adults in the U.S. battled an anxiety disorder in 2015—75% of those faced their first episode by age 22.

A survey of 14,000 students worldwide found that one in three freshmen suffer from mental health disorders before setting foot on campus.

Mental illnesses are becoming more prevalent on campuses and in the upcoming generation. These numbers are not meant to scare but stir action to the question: Are universities properly equipped with the right programs and resources to support their students?

On-campus resources for students

Many universities and colleges provide on-campus counselors, therapists, and wellness centers for enrolled students.

The problem? A 2017 report revealed the average ratio of counselor to student across the nation as 1737:1. If a student is struggling and in urgent need of mental health help, he or she may have wait a while for care.

Another issue is getting there. While stigma seems to be weakening with the upcoming generations, it can be terrifying for many to leave their dorms and risk being seen by a peer while at the wellness center.

Social-emotional learning standards

All 50 states in the U.S. have educational social-emotional learning (SEL) standards to help aid in overall wellness and success, but each state implements these on different levels. 11 teach these competencies from preschool to early elementary, 18 from K-12, and 21 provide webpages with relevant resources.

While much time and effort are put into teaching grammar and arithmetic, a child and student’s social-emotional skills and health are important to both their education and livelihood. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) found that effective SEL provides better academic performance, improved attitude and behavior, reduced negative behavior, and decreased emotional distress.

Data is our friend, not our foe

The suicide rate among young adults has tripled since the 1950s. 1,100 college students commit suicide each year. But, that’s just what’s being reported.

The Associated Press found that 43 of America’s 100 largest public universities aren’t keeping track of suicide rate among their students. It may be hard to talk about, but we cannot ignore it.

“If you don’t collect the data, you’re doing half the job,” said Gordon Smith, former U.S. senator and prevention advocate whose son took his life while attending college. “We need information in mental health if we’re actually going to be able to better tailor health and healing,” AP cited.

Data can save lives. It’s what helps foster awareness and sponsorship for programs and action.

Universities speaking out on and addressing mental health and the tragic realities can help increase aid, break stigma, and encourage others to speak up and seek help.

Lack of comprehensive online courses

Providing online courses and trainings for students can help combat stigma, support students uncomfortable with seeking help, and provide immediate aid at their fingertips.

Training modules, such as those from EverFi, are used by high schools and universities to provide education on topics like alcohol abuse. But, that only addresses a very small piece of a large puzzle.

University wellness pages or sources like the JED Foundation provide a maze of articles and links. While we commend this effort, the reality is, the last thing an already-frustrated freshman needs is a long-winded, technical glossary of mental health terms.

Capsule is a short yet comprehensive self-development and wellness course for students and professionals alike. While we’re not here to heal, our all-encompassing goal is to help. We tackle the life questions that society places (unfairly) on parents, many of whom could use Capsule themselves. For anything more serious, we integrate with Campus health and wellness centers and encourage students to seek professional help.

But, we believe we can all do more. Our students–the future game-changers, leaders, artists, scientists, innovators, and parents–are struggling.

Capsule is there to equip students with helpful tools for when those hard times, big decisions, and stressful whirlwinds come.

Peer support

One study found that peer support in mental health services promotes hope in recovery, empowerment, increased self-esteem, self-efficacy, self-management, and engagement in social networks.

Provide students the peer support they need with our “Capsule Crews.”

Students can find shoulders to lean on through our Capsule Crew program—a small group of peers on campus who come together to discuss the deep, meaningful issues that can otherwise be awkward to bring up. By sharing their Capsule reflections, they not only internalize learning but also practice the hard things: being vulnerable, being empathetic, being brave.

Equip your students with emotional management, mindset training, goal-setting, decision-making, self-awareness, stress-management, health and wellness, communication, relationship, and leadership skills they need for holistic health and skills.

For their educational, vocational, and life success, Capsule wants to help you help your students. They will thank you.

Visit us at to request a Demo for your university or company.

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