WVU administrators met with the Board of Governors last week to update board members on new mental health services the University is providing to students.
“Our students are coming in, and they are more lonely — they’re isolated, they’re feeling disconnected,” said Dr. T. Anne Hawkins, director of the Carruth Center.
Since the pandemic started, the Carruth Center has observed a dramatic increase in student anxiety disorders and depression.
“We’re seeing more increases in anxiety disorders. We’ve had a pretty robust increase in counseling appointments. That’s not been the case everywhere,” Hawkins said.
Compared to pre-pandemic times, the Carruth Center has seen a 14% increase in scheduled appointments, according to the presentation.
“Our students, pre-pandemic, were coming in with increasing mental health difficulties. In post pandemic, we know that they’re more anxious,” Hawkins said. “It creates a perfect storm.”
The University has implemented new initiatives to expand mental health resources such as Talkspace, a free online counseling service, and Healthy Minds University for long-term care.
“Our goal is to assist students that have more longitudinal needs than what Carruth can feasibly provide,” said Dr. Kari Law regarding Healthy Minds University’s mission.
Since the opening of Healthy Minds University, over 150 students have received services.
Healthy Minds University anticipates adding day treatment programs and substance use treatment.
The increased need for mental health services at WVU follows a nationwide trend on college campuses.
“Suicide waves construct anywhere, it’s something that we want to be prepared for, we want to provide the best care possible, and we want to do everything we can to, prevent any bad outcomes,” said Dr. Jeremiah Hopkins, a Carruth Center psychiatrist.
This past month, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill canceled classes for students after police investigated a possible suicide attempt.
In an address to students, UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said students "carry an increased risk of suicide.”
“University Counseling Centers on college campuses were the most popular office on college campuses these days. I like to think it's because of our personalities. But I think it’s because the services we provide are so very critical,” Hawkins said.
For students seeking mental health help the Carruth Center provides short term counseling, workshops and group therapy. The Carruth Center’s urgent crisis clinic also provides 24/7 access for students.
Students can schedule an appointment on the Carruth Center webpage or by calling 304-293-4431.