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Every year, thousands of people of varying race and gender are diagnosed with mental disorders. The scope of psychological conditions is wide, and its reach does not discriminate. But according to a study released on Jan. 14, college adults between the ages of 18 to 25 have more accepting views of mental healthcare than older generations.

The results, released by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, are based on a nationwide poll which surveyed almost 200 participants in that specific age group, a majority of which still see challenges with accessing mental care.

“We’re seeing a shift in the stigma of mental health in emerging adults, but until we can improve access to mental healthcare, it is unlikely that this generation will receive the support and care for a long-term change in mental well-being,” said Anne Marie Albano, a certified psychologist and member of ADAA.

At UCF, however, the office of Counseling and Psychological Services, which serves students seeking to address mental health concerns, has experienced an average increase of 11 percent of students served each year.

"Success in college depends on a number of factors, and mental health and wellness directly impact a student’s ability to succeed," said Dr. Christopher Hanes, the office's associate director. "We are increasingly seeing students come to campus with significant mental health concerns including suicidal thoughts and mental health treatment history."

According to the ADAA study, the majority of college-aged adults report higher rates of mental disorders than their counterparts in past generations, and about 65 percent of 18 to 25 year-olds have previously considered the possibility that they may have a mental condition.

And while 60 percent of college adults consider the act of seeing a mental health provider a sign of strength,  the notion that mental health services are a luxury is still common among some.

A total of 46 percent of 18 to 25 year-olds responded that mental health care is something that most people cannot afford, and 33 percent see it as inaccessible for most people.

But the office of Counseling and Psychological Services offers psychological services to enrolled students free of charge.

"By providing access to mental health care, we can meet the student where they are, reduce barriers typically experienced in other contexts, and take steps to provide the necessary support needed to help them achieve their goals," Dr. Hanes said.

In order to impact as many students as possible, CAPS engages in outreach initiatives such as presentations and events on campus to promote awareness of mental health issues and access.

"The more we can share what we offer, the impact of our services with students, and that we offer a wide range services, the better we can connect to students and help them see how their situation can be helped and that it has helped others," Dr. Hanes said. 

For students wishing to take advantage of counseling services, CAPS offers a complimentary initial assessment appointment to determine which services are best suited for a student’s needs. The office then provides counseling to individuals, groups and couples, as well as life coaching and crisis intervention.

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Daniela Marin is a digital producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @dan__marin or email her at DanielaM@CentralFloridaFuture.com.

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