Depression, anxiety and eating disorders are increasingly common problems experienced by college students. These mental health disorders, which may occur for the first time while in college, can interfere with academic success and general functioning in society.

Most universities have resources for students with mental health disorders, but these resources can have restrictions. For example, at the University of Maine, the counseling center says that only short-term help is provided. At the University of Southern Maine, up to six sessions are provided free of charge. This would also be considered relatively short term.

Short-term help is useful for students with minor mental health problems, but for those with more serious problems, it may not be enough to keep the disorders from interfering with the students’ major areas of functioning. Referring to providers outside of the university would require the student to start overexplaining their problem and forming a new relationship with that provider. This would delay the potential for improvements in students’ mental health.

Waiting lists for providers outside of the university may also be very long and delay service to the student. Some students may not be able to afford to see a mental health provider outside the university or may not have insurance that covers enough of the service cost. The university’s resources may be the only option for many students.

UMaine, USM and other universities may want to consider forming long-term mental health services for students while they are attending that university. Hiring more professionals and involving more master’s and doctoral interns in a mental health-related field could help to achieve this.

With a few incremental changes, we can improve the mental health services available to university students. This benefits the students, the university and the greater community by aiding in student academic and future successes.

Bailey Sheehan