Of all the dramatic changes in higher education in recent years, one that goes largely unnoticed is the tremendous growth in the mission, services, and facilities of health centers. Decades ago most colleges and universities believed their only responsibility for student health was to set up a clinic to treat the sick and injured. Today, driven by a broader and, in our judgment, better understanding of health and its impact on learning, many institutions of higher education provide much more.
The demands on health centers are greater and more complex than ever. More students today come to campus with significant health needs, including mental health challenges. One in four is already taking psychotropic drugs—which enable some to go to college who would not otherwise function well enough. And many need help managing serious conditions like asthma, ADHD, eating disorders, addiction, autism-spectrum disorders, and physical disabilities.