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MU Seeing Increased Anxiety in Students

Francis Quadrangle on the MU campus

The University of Missouri is seeing a sharp increase in the number of students seeking mental health services as compared to last year. MU Counseling Center Director David Wallace recently told the Board of Curators that the university has seen a 35% increase in the number of students experiencing mental health issues such as anxiety in the past five weeks compared to the first five weeks of term last year. The increase is not just at MU, said Christy Hutton, Assistant Director for Outreach and Prevention, as university health services country wide have seen a similar increase.

“What I tend to think about is how many different roles and things that students are trying to juggle and balance,” Hutton said. “Trying to take care of relationships on campus and at home dealing with family, things that may be going on and class stresses.”

The demand is leading to delays in getting appointments at the center, which has 12 full-time and four part-time professional staff. Students can sometimes be delayed for a number of weeks before being seen by a medical professional. Alexus Zimerman, a sophomore at Mizzou, experienced the delays first hand.

“I called to get an appointment and the earliest appointment I could get that fit into my schedule was two weeks after I called. It was just a lot of anxiety and stress because I still had that problem hanging over my head and it felt like a huge weight was on my shoulders,” Zimerman said.

Christy Hutton says that whilst the delays are causing some problems at the center, work is being done to counteract any possible effects on the students.

“Once folks make it in for that first appointment we have been able to get them started in services pretty quickly, so it’s not like you have to wait to get in then you have to wait again.”

Students who are considered in danger of harming themselves or others are referred for hospitalization. The number of students hospitalized has varied from eight to 15 per year in recent years.

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