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Are students more needy today than they used to be?
A psychologist reported colleges are struggling to meet demands for services that help students with their "increased neediness." And it might be because students haven't learned to solve their problems. - photo by Payton Davis
When psychologist and professor Peter Gray accepted an opportunity to discuss the declining number of resilient students at a major university, he said one tidbit talked about in particular was concerning: Emergency calls to the university's counseling department had more than doubled in five years.

And emotionally fragile students complicate matters on campus in more ways than people think, Gray wrote for Psychology Today.

"Faculty at the meetings noted that students' emotional fragility has become a serious problem when it comes to grading," he wrote. "Some said they had grown afraid to give low grades for poor performance because of the subsequent emotional crisis they would have to deal with in their office."

Wills Robinson reported for Daily Mail on Gray's takeaway that students now view earning a B or C grade as the "end of the world." In addition, just as problematic is their tendency to complain rather than study more.

But for many, young people complaining and expecting others to solve problems isn't exclusive to academics.

"There has been an increase in diagnosable mental problems, but there has also been a decrease in the ability of many young people to manage the everyday bumps in the road of life," an email sent to Gray from a university head of counseling read. "Whether we want it or not, these students are bringing their struggles to their teachers and others on campus who deal with students on a day-to-day basis.

These students "are reportedly suffering from an increase in neediness," Virginia Kruta wrote for Independent Journal. They blame professors for poor grades, dial 911 for a mouse in their dorm rooms and seek counseling after getting called unpleasant names.

Are all of the 1 in 10 students on campus receiving some sort of counseling just needy, though?

Cliff Peale wrote for The Cincinnati Enquirer numerous factors have bolstered counseling services on campus.

Students "accustomed to therapy and pharmaceuticals" probably contribute to the demand, according to Peale.

"Counselors say that in previous generations, those students probably would have struggled through high school, perhaps without counseling or drugs, and would never have been able to handle the academics or other stressors associated with going to college," Peale wrote.

Still, Gray wrote in his Psychology Today piece that the student with little resilience is prevalent at U.S. universities. Reared in a way where parents helped them avoid trouble, today's young adults haven't been given the opportunity to "experience failure and realize they can survive it."

Or, millennials are going through similar ordeals as those before them and are just more likely to speak on their struggles, Maanvi Singh reported for NPR.

Singh noted a slew of examples of millennials' inabilities to grow up as described by major media outlets. However, Mitch Prinstein, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, told Singh there's a chance no data exists to support the theory.

And we can blame that on lax researchers from four or five decades ago.

" ... We can't really compare how depressed millennials are with how it was for our parents and grandparents when they were young," Singh reported. "That's because researchers weren't very good at collecting data on mental illness back in the '60s and '70s, when the baby boomers were in their late teens and 20s."

According to Singh, federal government data on depression only goes back to the early '00s, and depression rates haven't increased since then.

Gray opines students are more likely to complain, but Prinstein told Singh they might just be more likely to share.

"Millennials are certainly using social media in a way that we haven't seen with other generations," Singh quoted Prinstein saying. "They're not as shy about sharing their anxieties online."
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