College is a time for exploration and new experiences. Millions of kids (about 20 million) begin their college careers every year. The excitement, hope, and optimism are almost tangible across our college campuses every summer as students move into their dorms for the first time. While college is a time of growth, it is also a time of struggle, despair, and great hardship for many. College students are experiencing a mental health crisis throughout our country and access to quality mental health services for our students is often difficult or nonexistent.
Over 75% of college students describe experiencing some sort of mental health crisis during their college years and almost 50% of students report having felt so depressed that they had trouble functioning. In addition, more than 80% of college students felt overwhelmed and 50% felt hopeless. College directors of counseling services report that the number of students with severe psychological problems is rapidly increasing and the demand for counseling services has grown at least 5 times faster than average student enrollment. Of all these students needing help and experiencing difficulties, only 25% of students seek help.
There are many reasons a suffering student may not seek help for their mental health issues. The stigma surrounding mental health treatment often tops the list. Many college students don’t want to be seen as a “problem” at their university, so they just keep quiet and fly under the radar. Students who seek treatment find that the resources and clinical services available on college campuses are severely lacking and, other than college counseling centers, students and their family members do not know where to look for quality mental health treatment.
Nora Mental Health, LLC is improving the college counseling arena and making a positive impact on the youth of today. Dr. Cullen Hardy, Founder of Nora Mental Health, LLC, has developed a program that is changing the way college counseling is done. Through his program, students are treated in a variety of settings, not just the therapist’s office, and with a variety of innovative, creative methods that, he says, produces better treatment outcomes than traditional in-office therapy. “Meeting a college student who is facing mental health difficulties once a week for an hour in an office setting just doesn’t work,” Dr. Hardy says. “We need to meet with these students in their own environment: on campus, in their dorms, at the dining hall, at a coffee shop, wherever they feel comfortable and where they are experiencing these struggles.”
Many college students never leave the confines of their campuses, so it makes sense that treatment should be taken to the environment in which they live. “I can’t tell you how many students report that meeting on campus is more productive therapeutically,” Dr. Hardy states. “There also needs to be an element of coaching because many students are thrown into the college atmosphere and have no idea how to navigate it. Coaching and support go a long way and there are many students who experience such a high level of paralyzing anxiety that they literally cannot bring themselves to meet with a dean or professor. Grades suffer and many students fall through the cracks without receiving the proper support needed. I will personally attend these meetings with them to support them as they progress through their college career and, ultimately, they schedule and meet with professors on their own. This coaching and support are rarely parts of the traditional therapy college students get. I integrate the coaching and support piece with all the students I work with, and we really build an entire support network around the student…and this leads to great success. Yes, legally, they are adults, but the brain doesn’t fully mature until around the age of 25, and college students begin their freshman year at 17 or 18. There needs to be a change in how we approach college students, and we need to accept the fact that many students are not ready to fully function as independent adults and that is perfectly ok…and that is normal.”
Dr. Hardy and Nora Mental Health are taking a new approach to how college students are treated for their mental health struggles. With the mental health crisis on our college campuses only getting worse, it was only a matter of time before different methods had to be implemented and the system for treating college students had to change. Dr. Cullen Hardy is doing just that.
For more information, you can reach out to Dr. Cullen Hardy at CollegeIsStressful.com or NoraMentalHealth.com.