Mental-health crunch on campus

Universities are hiring more social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists as demand for campus mental-health services rises. But persistent budget gaps mean that students in some cases are footing much of the cost of the positions, write Melissa Korn and Angela Chen for The Wall Street Journal.

Students at George Washington University will be charged an additional US$1,667 in tuition next year, a jump of 3.4%. More than US$830,000 of the resulting new revenue will pay for mental-health services. Regents at the University of California system are weighing a plan to hire 70 additional psychologists – a 40% increase – and 20 more psychiatrists – a 60% jump – to keep up with the demand at counselling centres across its 10 campuses. Administrators estimate the annual cost of the hires would top US$17.4 million, and they plan to raise a mandatory annual student services fee to US$1,242 from US$972 by the 2019-20 academic year to cover some of the expense.

Nearly 59% of college counselling centre directors reported that their operating budgets rose in 2013, up from 23% in 2012 and 15% in 2009, according to a survey by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors. Yet many schools fall far short of recommendations regarding the number of mental-health professionals they should have for the size of their student populations – and about one-third don’t have a psychiatrist on campus at all.
Full report on The Wall Street Journal site