Dear Alice,

How many college students seek counseling?

—Educated neuroses?

Dear Educated neuroses,

The exact number in any given year is not fully known, but at Columbia, approximately 3,200 students seek counseling at Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS). In addition, there are probably also a number of students seeking counseling services elsewhere. This represents an increase over numbers in the 90s which may be due to a decrease in the social stigma of seeking mental health services.

While definitive numbers may be hard to come by, the American College Health Association conducted a study on the top ten health concerns of college students in 2007. Depression and anxiety were both among the top 10 complaints, with depression being the fourth highest. Some studies have found that college students may still hesitate to access mental health services, but there are a number of reasons why college students often seek out counseling. They include:

  • Depression
  • Relationship issues
  • Eating disorders
  • Stress adjusting to the college environment

… to name a few.

Most campus counseling centers, including CPS, are short-term, offering several sessions for students who want to talk about anything from dating to depression to stress management. When a counselor and student agree that longer-term counseling would be useful, CPS will refer students to trusted counselors in the community.

For Columbia students and affiliates who have paid the health service fee (which includes all full-time students), there are a number of counseling resources on campus:

Outside of Columbia, there are additional counseling resources:

Whether you choose therapy at a counseling center or in private practice, it can be beneficial in working through a variety of life issues. Many people wait until an issue reaches a crisis stage before seeking therapy but therapy can be helpful in addressing even concerns that seem minor.

Take care,


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