Mental Health and Our Students

Feb. 20, 2019

By Shane Burgess, University of Arizona Vice President for Agriculture, Life and Veterinary Sciences, and Cooperative Extension

Every now and then, I see a cluster of statistics that make me stop and remember why it’s critical that all of us be aware of campus and CALS resources that can be of help to students facing health or academic challenges. I want to share with you some sobering data from a survey of U.S. undergraduates.

  • 63% of students sought treatment for overwhelming anxiety during the past year.
  • 42% of students were so depressed that their GPA dropped (an increase from 27% in 2010).
  • 12% of students thought of suicide; 9% intentionally cut, burned, bruised or injured themselves; 2% attempted suicide.

Right here at UA, in the last year 36% of the students seen at Counseling & Psych Services (CAPS) in 2018 were assessed as being at some risk of suicide.

Have you noticed a student suddenly changing his or her behavior? If you are concerned about a student, learn more about the counseling services Campus Health offers: CAPS Quick Facts for Faculty and Staff.

When in doubt as to how to handle a student concern, Call & Consult is a CAPS program for faculty and staff. Call 520-621-3334 and a CAPS professional will return your call.

For some students, money is at the root of these issues: 36% of U.S. college students report that finances were very difficult to handle during the past year.

Sometimes food security is the only thing standing between passing a course and not. An outstanding bursar’s balance may stop students from enrolling in their last semester.

To help, I have prioritized a student retention campaign to build a $12.5M emergency funds endowment for CALS students.

I think daily about how we must be a place our families can entrust what is most dear to them—their children. Our academic advisors can be our students’ most able source of help and advice. They can also help connect a student facing health challenges with Campus Health. These dedicated professionals are on our front lines. Please join me in supporting their efforts and thanking them for what they do.


Media contact:
Bethany Rutledge, director of administration and communications
520-621-7198, rutledge@cals.arizona.edu