More MSU student reporting depression, anxiety, stress

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University Students are reporting sharp increases in depression, anxiety, and stress since the start of the pandemic.

Dr. Mark Patishnock, the director of Counseling and Psychiatric Services at MSU, says colleges across the country have seen a steady uptick in students asking for help with mental health issues but COVID has caused those numbers to spike.

“In the last 10 to 15 years this upward trend, of folks presenting with mental health concerns asking for help, has persisted up and down across different circumstances, different events,” Patishnock said. “The COVID pandemic is very significant and, at the same time, the latest additional stressor to navigate, but these trends were there before that.”

The university has been tracking mental health and physical health in students for 20 years now.

“In the last year, we’ve seen some significant rises in student concerns when it comes to mental health,” said Dennis Martell, director of Health Promotions.

But take 2010 as an example. Students still said they were stressed.

Dr. Dennis Martell, WSYM, Feb 2022

Data showing the stress trend among students over the last decade

“About 47 percent of students, said they were experiencing a greater than average or tremendous stress. Now, every year after that, that went up about one point. So in 2020, there were about 55 percent of students who said they’re experienced Seeing more than average, or tremendous stress. Now, that’s like one point per year,” Martell said.

But in 2021 that jumped up to almost 70 percent.

“It jumped up 15 points in one year. Now, why is that? Well, I think we all know COVID has brought all kinds of new challenges to the student’s experience from academics to career-related things,” Martell said.

Julia Lower is a senior at MSU.

“Mental health during the pandemic has been, I would say, less than great compared to when I first came in as a freshman,” she said. “Freshman year, you come into college, and you’re so excited to get started and meet all of these people and attend classes and be in person. And then when COVID hit at like, all of that stopped.”

She says both the end of her sophomore year and all of her junior year were tough.

“I was struggling a lot to find connections, and really being confined, I think in such a small space and not being able to go outside my apartment and do things that I normally would really take a toll on my mental health,” Lower said . “When the pandemic hit, and specifically for me, the bulk of being virtual was during my junior year, which was a heavy recruiting season for trying to find an internship and also hopefully a full-time job after graduation. And so when everything was virtual , there was a huge lack of communication of how to go about recruiting how to find jobs, and a lot of students struggled and couldn’t even have a chance to get that opportunity.”

In 2010 almost 50 percent of MSU students reported they felt overwhelming anxiety. In 2021 it jumped to a little over 70 percent.

“Everyone at this point in this society is experiencing a different reality, and a different reality provide stress. I think the one thing we’ve seen a lot of over the last 10 years and Mark and I have talked about this is the rise in anxiety,” Martell said.

In 2010, over 20 percent of students said they felt “so depressed”. By 2021, it had jumped to over 40 percent.

These trends aren’t unique to MSU.

“They’re consistent with, you know, national trends. But what we’re certainly seeing him at MSU is that more students are asking for help. And we believe that’s a confluence of students feeling more comfortable asking for help, the fact that We’re living in a continually more complicated and stressful world where there are things to navigate. And so what’s clear is that you know, people need support, people need to be listened to. said.

MSU says they are continually assessing the current state of Spartan health and using this information to assess current strategies and best practices to evaluate what is working in order to adapt.

Both Counseling and Psychiatric Services and Health Promotion offer in-person and virtual services to students.

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