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UI Counseling Services sees spike

BY TIERRA SIMPSON | OCTOBER 01, 2012 6:30 AM

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The University of Iowa Counseling Service saw a 4 percent increase in the number of student visits in the 2011-12 academic year, and officials say numerous factors may have led to the increased intake.

Sam Cochran, the director of the service, said the increase could be attributed to more students on campus, more knowledge of the resources available, and mental-health issues facing students.

“Most students and parents are more knowledgeable about mental-health conditions and the kinds of treatments and services available on campus and who are willing to advocate and take advantage of them,” he said.

Those with a mental-health condition could benefit from treatment but some do not seek help, and Cochran notes this has been a prevalent issue.

“The more people coming in, the better everyone’s going to be,” he said.

Officials at the University of Northern Iowa also saw a 3 percent rise in the number of students they treated during the 2011-12 academic year. “It [has] been increasing every year for the last several years,” said David Towle, the director at the UNI counseling center. “In general, there are more students coming to campus with some serious needs. The barriers to seeking counseling are being reduced, somewhat.”

Students with mental-health conditions are not the only students seeking help at the counseling services. The UI Counseling Service helps with concerns ranging from college transition to relationship difficulties.

“We really work with a large number of concerns,” Cochran said.

Kathleen Staley, the assistant director for the UI’s outreach program, said students often learn that counseling services are helpful despite initial apprehension.

“I think as people learn more about what counseling therapy is all about they get more comfortable, they learn it’s a very helpful process,” she said.

Officials predict numbers will continue to climb at the service. They are trying to get the word out about their service through a website, a Twitter and Facebook account, and other outlets.

“We are trying different ways to penetrate the information out to the student body as best we can,” Cochran said.

The outreach program also spreads the word about the help available.

“We are out and about on campus; we give a lot of talks on campus,” Staley said. “I think the more we’re out on campus, the more students learn about our service.”

These counseling services can help students later on in life, Towle said.

“In some cases people are seriously depressed and effective treatment is essential to save their lives, to prevent them from becoming suicidal,” Towle said. “I think it’s important because students need to be able to be able to overcome problems like depression, anxiety, stress, and significant life problem in order to be successful in school and ultimately later in life.”


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