By Drew DiGiorgio
Mental and behavioral health issues have become an inescapable part of campus life – and particularly among the graduate student population, according to a recent study.
Self-reported rates of anxiety and depression among 2,279 responding graduate students and PhD candidates were six times higher than the general population, reported the authors of a study published this week in Nature Biotechnology.
Overall, students seeking counseling have reported persistent increases in distress levels due to depression, generalized anxiety, and social anxiety, according to a UPenn Center for Collegiate Mental Health report that compiled data from counselors at 400 campuses over the past six years.
Campus counselors are starting to change their operations to address the crisis, with many counseling centers providing more “rapid-access” service hours, and fewer “routine” services hours, the UPenn report stated. College institutions are also increasing awareness, monitoring, and prevention activities – but the cultural shift away from stigma and shame around mental health issues has yet to happen, say academics interviewed for a Science article about the graduate student study.
The studies point directly to the need for students to be proactive about their mental health, and, for colleges to have supports in place for young adults.
Here at CHP, our philosophy pertaining to mental health care is centered around the certainty that a mental health or substance abuse crisis requires providing immediate attention, with the best possible care available.
To address this urgency, CHP has created CareConnect, an on-demand, integrated behavioral health tool that offers help 24/7, at the touch of a button. CHP Student Health members can call the hotline listed on their ID card or use the mobile app, which is tailored to their school’s plan, for immediate access to a licensed mental health clinician. Students pay no additional out-of-pocket fee for CareConnect services (when added to the schools’ student health insurance plan).
This service, newly available in the 2018-2019 plan year for colleges purchasing a Student Health Insurance Plan through CHP, helps keep students out of the emergency room and into an immediate, on-demand counseling session. While extensive provider networks in proximity to campus are great, they’re meaningless at 2 AM, when a student is in crisis and can’t access other supports.
Students never have to wait for a call back – CareConnect links them immediately and directly to a professional counselor. The counselor can clinically assess whether the student needs emergency-room treatment; provide counseling services; direct the caller to on- or off-campus counseling services and resources; and provide an in-network referral to a mental health specialist. This immediate response ensures improved patient satisfaction and quality outcomes, while reducing the school’s behavioral health care spend per member.