Springfield experts say mental health for college students is “worse than ever”

Published: Aug. 11, 2023 at 4:12 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Rates of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation on college campuses have never been higher, according to a recent National Education Association (NEA) post.

In Springfield, Burrell Behavioral Health Medical Partnerships Director Chelsea Gilliam said mental health for college students is declining and is a problem at home and everywhere.

“We are in a period where we’re seeing more mental health issues than we ever have before,” Gilliam said. “Post-pandemic, we knew that was going to occur because it exacerbated and also brought up new ones during that time period,” she said.

Gilliam also said it could be especially important for college freshmen to prioritize their well-being.

“Get plugged in as much as possible, whether that’s in the community or the campus life. Try to do the things you know how to do, so make sure you’re getting adequate sleep, make sure you’re maintaining some kind of healthy diet, and be physical,” she said. “We see that incoming freshmen often forget about those basics.”

She said Burrell Behavioral Health has a program geared many toward college students to help aid their struggles. She said Burrell currently has counselors at local universities like Drury University, and there used to be one on OTC’s campus. There are also Burrell counselors over at Stephens College in Columbia.

Paige Bowser is an upcoming junior at Missouri State University majoring in Psychology. She said from her own experiences that prioritizing your mental health in college is crucial to a good overall college experience.

Missouri State junior Paige Bowser talks about mental health struggles in college.
Missouri State junior Paige Bowser talks about mental health struggles in college.(KY3)

“I think a lot of freshmen, including myself, are worried about finding that group of people, and it’s so important to get involved in something. If you’re rushing (a sorority) or doing a sport, just meeting those people is good because it’s easy to sit in your dorm all day and not put yourself out there,” Bowser said.

Now being a brand new upperclassman, she reminds freshmen coming into college to take it easy during that transitional period of their life.

“It’s okay to get not the grades you’re used to. It’s okay for not everything to go perfectly. Just accept that and know you’re doing your best,” Bowser said.

According to Gilliam, the mental health crisis for young adults in school is real, and places like Burrell Behavioral Health are determined to support students through some of the toughest years of their lives.

“More than a third of students (35%) had been diagnosed with anxiety. 27% had been diagnosed with depression. 8% had been diagnosed with a trauma or stressor-related disorder, such as PTSD. 60% have at least one mental illness,” Gilliam said.

If you want to learn more about Burrell’s mental health resources for young adults in school, visit its page. There are also multiple mental health resources anyone can look at on its website as well.

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