Problems with anxiety, specifically with social anxiety, have become the most common reason that students seek out the school’s counseling services, having overtaken issues with depression. That was among many facts shared by Director of Counseling Services Dan Larson when he updated the Student Life Committee (SLC) on the state of counseling at Knox.
Fall Term is typically the quietest term, but this year there has been a slight increase in students seeking help, “remarkably similar to what Winter Term usually looks like,” according to Larson.
The average new arrival to Counseling Services will have 4-5 total sessions, spaced out at intervals of ideally every other week. About half of new arrivals have previously been to counseling off-campus and about a quarter are on medication.
No significant variations in usage of Counseling Services were found among different graduating classes.
The rise of anxiety issues is a relatively new phenomenon, having only surpassed depression on this campus in the last year or two. Larson notes that this mirrors a nationwide trend in college students.
Family issues or relationships are the most common triggers of anxiety at Knox.
There has also been a rise in students talking about self-harm, although they are “more thinking about it than acting on it” according to Larson. He also views this trend as positive, as it indicates that students are seeking help earlier before they act on their thoughts.
An interesting change over the years is that parents have started to demand more details on the progress their son or daughter is making in counseling, which was not the case when he initially started at Knox.
“Helicopter parent is an overused term, but accurate,” said Larson.
Although, “it would be nice…to have another full time counselor,” Larson is generally happy with staffing levels. He notes that the wait list time is typically pretty short.
With more staff he would aim to devote more time to outreach efforts, such as sexual assault prevention or education about drug and alcohol abuse. The Office of Student Development is currently looking into having a practicum student from Western Illinois University come to perform these sort of outreach tasks.