Over the past several years, college counseling centers across the U.S. have experienced striking increases in the number of students seeking treatment for psychological problems as well as amplification of symptom severity manifested by these students. Bowdoin is no exception. Utilization of our Counseling Service has increased by approximately 50% in the past five years. In the 2001-02 academic year, one in five students sought individual counseling at our office. Forty to fifty percent of students in any given class seek on-campus psychological counseling at some point during their time here. Utilization of psychiatric medication consultations has increased tenfold since 1995. Several Bowdoin students are hospitalized annually for psychiatric conditions, while others require psychologically-related medical leaves. Suicidal ideation and self-injurious behaviors are common here and on campuses nationwide. In a recent survey of college counseling centers, 80 of 274 (30%) of schools that responded experienced at least one student suicide in a one-year period. Despite increased utilization of psychological services, many students in distress, especially those with substance abuse or eating disorders, neither seek nor receive treatment.
In the face of these national patterns and day-to-day experiences with troubled students, many faculty and staff members have expressed concern and requested information to assist them in identifying problems and helping students locate professional support. At Bowdoin, by virtue of our small size and academic values, we have committed ourselves to support students in their growth as total human beings. This document is designed to assist faculty and staff to recognize typical signs exhibited by students in distress, to communicate effectively with such students, and to refer them to appropriate campus resources.