Parents stress about growing mental health issues for college students in Southwest Florida

college students
Posted at 3:46 PM, Sep 16, 2021

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Parents across the nation are still feeling the weight of COVID as new studies show a rise in students seeking mental health services.

After more than a year and a half of being pushed through the pandemic, college students at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) are feeling a strain on their mental health.

Dr. Jon Brunner, Director of Counseling and Wellness Services at FGCU spoke with Fox 4 about the rise in students seeking mental help.

“In August, our crisis line calls increased by 50%, so we know there is a lot of distress out there,” said Brunner.

Brunner, says student distress can come from a variety of things including anxiety depression, and substance abuse.

In a study done in part by the National Alliance on Mental Illness,
more than 40% of college students have felt more than an average amount of stress within the past 12 months

Plus, more than 80% of college students felt overwhelmed by all they had to do in the past year.

Brunner says their data shows these feelings have carried over into the new school year.

“One question that we ask on one of the many of you felt so depressed that it was difficult to function in the last 30 days? What we find is that about 25% of the students will answer “yes” to that,” he said.

Recent studies show the stress from the pandemic has extended to parents as well.

26.7% of Parents who have been surveyed say one of their biggest worries is managing their child’s anxiety and 25.4%have fear of their kids getting sick at a school.

All this while around the nation, Coronavirus variants are still spreading,

“ There are also students who are still really concerned about all kinds of things, they have seen serious illness in their families and they have concern over those issues as well,” said Brunner.

At FGCU, the game plan is to continue to expand their health services with different groups and other resources.

Brunner encourages anyone who feels they are struggling to reach out for help.

“We survey every semester about 20% of the students that we see and they tell us that about 60% of the students will say receiving counseling services made it possible for me to continue as a student," said Brunner.