The GW counseling center has seen a record number of students this year, and the increase has been mirrored across the country, according to a recent study of mental health care.
Dr. John Dages, the director of the University Counseling Center, said scheduled individual appointments at the counseling center increased by 34 percent in the first quarter of this year. More than 6,000 counseling appointments are made every year at the counseling center, and approximately 30 percent of those students seek treatment for some form of depression, he said.
According to a new “Healthy Minds Study,” an annual survey that examines mental health issues among college students across the nation, students are seeking psychiatric help at record levels. Dages said he has seen the same trend at GW.
“There has been a significant increase in services since last year,” Dages said. “We are seeing students coming to campus with more psychological or mental health issues that need to be addressed.”
Dages said GW students and parents are now more aware of the counseling center’s resources, and the stigma associated with therapy has decreased in recent years as more students have issues they need to address. He mentions these factors as reasoning for the recent swell in patients at the center.
Dages also credited a recent counseling center push on campus to raise awareness through information sessions and advertisements as a reason for the increased student traffic.
The counseling center offers 24-hour phone assistance to GW students and guarantees a phone assessment within 24 hours to make an appointment.
A GW senior, whose name is being withheld due to privacy concerns, said she looked to the counseling center recently to work through issues she had with her father. She said she heard about the center from an information session about eating disorders conducted with her sorority, but said she resisted going to therapy initially because of the stigma surrounding mental illness.
“For a long time I resented seeing a therapist to deal with my family issues,” she said. “As I continued to mature I realized that if I didn’t deal with my problems with my dad in a healthy manner, they would begin to disrupt everything great I had going for me.”
Although the student has only had a few sessions, she said they have already been helpful.
“Having a campus counseling center is extremely useful to students who feel they need someone to speak with,” she said. “In my opinion, it is an essential resource that should always be available to students.”
Dages said he hopes awareness about the counseling center increases so that students can benefit from services.
“Our services make it easier for students to adjust to the University and be equipped with skills to move beyond the University and into a career or path of their choice,” Dages said. “My hope is that all students know that the center is accessible 24/7 for all students.”