The state of mental health at Utah State University

Local News

LOGAN (ABC4 News) – The topic of mental health is a growing concern for young adults. In a recent report released by the Utah System of Higher Education, more than 50 percent of students surveyed at Utah State University reported feeling hopeless in the past 12 months. School administrators said they have added four more positions to their counseling center to help meet the increasing need.

The report surveyed respondents from nine undergraduate institutions. Data collected from 1,157 students at Utah State University showed:

  • Nearly 55 percent “felt things were hopeless”
  • Nearly 90 percent “felt overwhelmed by all they had to do”
  • About 80 percent felt “exhausted (not from physical activity)”
  • About 85 percent “felt very lonely”
  • More than 85 percent “felt very sad”
  • More than 40 percent “felt so depressed it was difficult to function”
  • More than 70 percent “felt overwhelming anxiety”
  • More than 60 percent “felt overwhelming anger”
  • Nearly 10 percent “intentionally cut, burned, bruised, or otherwise injured themselves”
  • More than 10 percent “seriously considered suicide”
  • About 2 percent “attempted suicide”
  • About 22 percent have “ever been diagnosed with depression”
  • Nearly 50 percent expressed difficulty in handling academics
  • Nearly 40 percent expressed difficulty in handling finances
  • About 55 percent reported experiencing more than average levels of stress
  • Nearly 20 percent indicated they have ever received psychological or mental services from their university’s counseling or health services.

Amanda DeRito, Director of Crisis Communications and Issues Management for Utah State University, said the number of total clients accessing their Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) has increased 36 percent from the three-month period between July and September 2019 compared to the same period last year.

“While USU continues to add more resources, the needs for services is continuing to rise, and CAPS is looking at creative ways to use our resources to meet the increasing needs of students,” said DeRito.

The need is so dire that earlier this school year, students agreed to raise fees to provide the funding needed for more mental health experts. DeRito said the total fee increase was $10.46 per student, which covered most of the salaries for four new positions.

In August, the university announced those four positions are:

  • Two psychologists
  • One licensed marriage and family therapist
  • One case manager
  • (Three full-time pre-doctoral psychology internship positions)

“In addition, CAPS works closely with the Student Health Center, which provides brief mental health therapy sessions with USU graduate psychology students working under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. The Student Health Center is the only office on campus that provides psychiatric medication services,” the statement said.

DeRito clarified that CAPS does not have a waitlist, as some students have said. She explained that when students come in, they are evaluated on their mental health needs. Clients who have an urgent need will be seen earlier. Other students will be scheduled according to the immediacy of their needs.

“We reserve crisis appointments for that reason,” she said. “But they don’t just say, ‘We’ll see you in a few weeks.’ We give them all sorts of resources and offer other services like group therapy and peer support.”

Officials said both CAPS and the Student Health Center provide mental health services free of charge to undergraduate students who are enrolled for at least 9 credits and graduate students who are enrolled for at least 6 credits.

“Students and community members can also receive mental health services based upon a sliding-scale fee schedule through the Behavioral Health Clinic at the Sorenson Center for Clinical Excellence,” according to the statement.”

For students who would rather not make an appointment, the university funds access for its students to the SafeUT app, provided by the University of Utah Health Sciences. The mobile app offers short crisis-oriented sessions with trained therapists through a confidential chat feature, or by calling through the app.

For more information on Utah State University’s mental health resources, click here.


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