A skyrocketing number of students are seeking crisis counseling at East Carolina University, prompting the school to make sure it educates pupils not just on academics but also on how to cope with life's challenges, NBC News reported.
ECU reported a 16 percent increase in student counseling appointments in the past two years. Those involving a crisis were up 52 percent, according to a July report that shocked officials on the Greenville, North Carolina, campus.
"It wasn't just the numbers, it was the intensity and severity," said ECU Director of Counseling Valerie Kisler-van Reede. "It felt like something very different was going on — a lack of resiliency and the ability to cope."
As a result, the college has boosted its counseling staff and resources and also introduced a new program — Recognition, Insight and Openness or RIO — to teach students self-talk, journaling, mindfulness and other cognitive-affective stress management techniques. RIO was adapted from a California Polytechnic State University workshop and originated with Central Washington University.
A 2015 survey from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State revealed that half of all students who visit the counseling services at the nation's colleges are experiencing anxiety, NBC News reported.
Some say this generation of college students is having a difficult time "adulting" — a slang term for behaving like a responsible adult.
But ECU officials say the problem is deeper, about resilience, and it begins long before they arrive at college.
"They say the millennials have failed, but have not experienced (that) failure," said ECU Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Virginia Hardy.