Original Article

A Retrospective Study of Students Referred to a Psychiatric Clinic at a College Counseling Center in Appalachia

Authors: Brittani Lowe, MD, Kristina Bryant-Melvin, MD, Mark Peterson, MD, Nafeeza Hussain, MD, MPH, Suzanne Holroyd, MD


Objectives: This study describes the clinical problems and psychiatric diagnoses of college students who sought services at a student counseling clinic and were subsequently referred for evaluation by a psychiatrist. Several important psychiatric problems present before leaving for college that could mandate the selection of a college with psychiatric services at the university or nearby community. This study confirms the importance of having psychiatric consultation available in addition to the range of counseling services found in a campus mental health clinic.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective chart review of 150 patients who were referred for psychiatric care from an on-campus mental health clinic at an Appalachian university (Marshall University). Demographic and clinical data were collected, entered into SPSS version 24, and analyzed.

Results: The most common diagnosis was that of a depressive disorder (76.7%). The next most common was an anxiety disorder (60.7%). In addition, 43.3% of students had suicidal ideation within 1 month preceding their appointment with the psychiatrist, 24% had attempted suicide at least once in their life, and 36% had a history of nonsuicidal self-harm. Almost 81% had prior psychiatric diagnoses, and of those, 22% had a history of inpatient psychiatric care.

Conclusions: These results indicate that this student sample referred for psychiatric treatment has significant psychiatric illness. Our findings also confirm the need for the availability of psychiatric consultation as a part of college mental health services. Those students most in need of psychiatric consultation had almost all received psychiatric treatment and almost half had suicidal ideation in the month preceding the appointment with the psychiatrist. The specific problems that may lead a student applying to college to take into consideration the availability of psychiatric services include a previous psychiatric hospitalization, previous suicidal ideation that had already come to the attention of a mental health professional, or a previous diagnosis of depressive disorder or anxiety disorder.

Posted in: Mental Health10

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