I like to compare my anxiety disorder to a spiral. It coils around my heart, and on a good day, it’s relaxed, hanging loosely around it. There are other days, though, when the coil winds itself tight around my chest, making it hard to breathe and work and do any of the countless other activities of an AU student. Those days were the reason I sought out the Counseling Center at AU – but I quickly learned that it would be three weeks before an intake appointment.
I am not the only college student who deals with mental illness. A 2013 survey from the American Psychological Association, which actually included participants from AU, found that 41.6 percent of the students surveyed struggled with anxiety and 36.4 percent reported struggles with depression. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., but for people between the ages of 10 and 34, it is the second. Other studies have noted that the rate of mental illness in young adults has risen dramatically over the past decade. Given this, it’s no surprise that the Counseling Center is overbooked; students on campus are reaching out to the only resource they have.