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Mental health issues, sex assault reports up among students

December 1, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A new study shows that University of Minnesota students are reporting sexual assault and depression on campus at an increased rate.

The Minnesota Daily reports that the College Student Health Survey found a significant surge in students reporting mental health issues and sexual assault at the university.

The most common culprits of sexual harassment cited by University of Minnesota students were fellow students. About 39 percent of women and around 16 percent of men at the school say they have been sexually assaulted.

One public health expert said a primary reason for more students speaking out is because of increased public awareness about defining and identifying sexual assault.

“The data that we’re seeing now and in the past two years are more accurate numbers of what has been going on for quite a long time,” said Katie Eichele, the director of the Aurora Center.

Stigma surrounding mental health has also been challenged. The survey showed an increase in mental health diagnosis on campus between 2015 and 2018, increasing from 33 percent to 42 percent.

Most students reporting mental health issues recognized depression, anxiety and panic attacks as the chief causes of their diagnoses.

“For some people who may have a tendency towards anxiety and depression, (social media may) depict a world in which all of their friends are doing a whole hell of a lot better than they are,” said Andrew Finnegan, dean of the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health. “You’re constantly comparing.”

But the survey’s conclusions are not as troublesome as they appear, Finnegan said. He believes students are simply destigmatizing mental health conditions and seeking more help than they did before.

″(With) Generation Z and millennials . there’s a whole lot less stigma to dealing with mental health issues,” Finnegan said. “I look at that as a real plus.”

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Information from: The Minnesota Daily, http://www.mndaily.com/

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