A Push for Colleges to Prioritize Mental Health

As the NPR story below indicates, college campuses are seeing a surge in mental health issues among students. From a compilation of research reported by the University of Michigan’s, Daniel Eisenberg, statistics reveal:

* In 2007, approximately 15 percent of students reported having been diagnosed with depression, according to the American College Health Association
  *Over 90 percent of college counseling centers who were surveyed nationwide say they are seeing more severe cases of mental health issues
  *Half of all cases of mental illness first show up in the early teen years
  *75 percent are present by age 24.

As psychologists theorize why campuses are seeing this increase, Eisenberg thinks one factor is better screening and earlier diagnosis of mental illness in high school and even before than in previous generations. New medications for depression, bipolar disorder and other problems are enabling many people to go to college who would not have been able to in the past. While many people think college is a prime time to intervene and get these kids on a healthy path, that may not be soon enough. If we can give young adolescents the tools and coping skills earlier, we may help avert some of the suffering associated with mental illness and anxiety disorders before students get to college. LifeBound’s resources, such as Success in Middle School and People Smarts, boost social and emotional skills requisite to success in school, career and life.

How can we effectively teach students appropriate coping and self-advocacy skills at each of the various educational levels (elementary, middle and high school) and start a national dialogue about emotional and social skills for all students?

What are the percentages of students who experience the onset of various mental health difficulties before the 9th grade, and how can we do a better job reaching out to them?

How can we create a more supportive school culture to help students at risk of developing mental health issues?

How can parents, teachers, counselors and students at early ages be aware of these issues to address problems early before they escalate?

How can all of us be more authentic ourselves in ways that give students the permission to avoid “super human” tendencies which often fuel mental illness, depression and desire to contemplate suicide?

National Public Radio
by Deborah Franklin

Arcadio Morales, one of six residence deans at Stanford University, has lived in an apartment in the campus dorms for 15 years, often fielding late-night phone calls from students about everything from Frisbee injuries to mid-term anxiety to alcohol poisoning. He says some arriving freshmen have always packed emotional baggage along with their laptops and books. But the mix of problems he’s called to weigh in on has become more serious in recent years.
Colleges See Rise In Mental Health Issues, Oct. 19, 2009. “Early on,” he says, “most of the issues that surfaced were roommate issues, compatibility issues.” He still gets that sort of thing, along with the calls from “very involved” parents who want him, for example, to go down the hall and wake up their son or daughter. But these days, Morales is getting more calls about students in need of substantial psychiatric support.

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2 Responses to “A Push for Colleges to Prioritize Mental Health”

  1. yupoo says:

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