LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - College freshmen's emotional health hit an all-time low last year leaving universities with a predicament on how to reach out to these students.
"There are students that do have depression early on," says H. Michael Kirk, Ph.D., director of Counseling and Career Planning Services at UALR.
A 2009 study by The Jed Foundation found 13% of college students have had a diagnosed mental health condition and 10% reported signs of moderate to severe depression.
USA Today quotes a report from UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute which says in a survey of more than 200,000 first-time freshmen at 279 colleges and universities, only 52% rated their emotional health high or above average, a drop from 64% in 1985 and down 3.4% from 2009.
"If they're moving a pretty good piece from home there's going to be that separation anxiety," says Dr. Kirk.
But the doctor says UALR offers help, but students have to be willing to receive it.
"There is still that stigma that comes if I go see a counselor..." says Dr. Kirk.
UALR Junior and Student Mentor Michael Lock is a part of a UALR program called The Chancellor Leadership Corp.
"We make the transition from high school to college as easy as possible," says Lock.
Lock says they most encounter students who are home-sick.
"They tend to sit in dorms and be by themselves and when people are by themselves they're not happy. They're lonely," says Lock.
Lock is a Junior Ambassador and oversees four Sophomore Ambassadors who themselves oversee a group of freshman.
"College can be overwhelming if you come from a place where you don't know anybody or you're from a high school that had 200 students like mine did," says Lock.
Again, Lock says students in trouble often shy from seeking help.
"They feel weird .... if you need help you need to seek it out," says Lock.
Dr. Kirk says parents can prepare their upcoming freshmen by encouraging them to take on task like washing their own clothes and managing their own money before they leave home. He says it lessens the shock or responsibilities once they reach college.
Dr. Kirk says once in college, parents are sometimes the first to notice mental issues. Once noticed, he says they should seek help.
"If you see changes in behavior, someone needs to be talking to those students," says Dr. Kirk.
UALR students wanting more information on The Chancellor Leadership Corp Mentoring Program can contact their campus office at email@example.com or or (501)569-8240.
Follow Daniel on Twitter @dan_wilkerson.