April 18, 2005

Colleges Target Mental Illness

There is a well-written story in this weekend's Boston Globe on how brain disorders are getting much higher visibility at some colleges - so as to help catch and treat the disorder before it causes major problems.

Some brief quotes from the story:

"More than 40 percent of US students become so depressed during their four years in college that they have trouble functioning, while 15 percent suffer clinical depression, according to a 2004 survey of 47,202 students by the American College Health Association. The annual survey found that 1 in 10 college students had seriously considered suicide, the second-leading cause of death among college students, claiming about 1,100 lives a year."

"Despite the pervasiveness of mental illness on campus, specialists say, one of the toughest challenges remains overcoming stigmas that keep students from seeking treatment."

''The most frustrating thing for most of us in the field is trying to get students in the door; that's the hard part," Kadison said. ''When a student is in distress, you have a brief window of opportunity to help them."

This really drives home the importance of catching these disorders early.

More and more universities are working hard to address these issues:

Harvard has hired more therapists within the past five years, and added a special co-ordinator for mental health services.

At MIT, teams of physicians and counselors hang out with students in the dorms. And some of the dorms have been redesigned to foster more interaction and less isolation.

Columbia, Cornell, and New York University station counselors in dorms.

Emory University, the University of North Carolina, and MIT ask students to fill out anonymous mental health questionnaires.

At Tufts University the campus has reduced the stigma associated with mental illness to the point that 750 of 6,000 undergraduates have received counseling.

With all this progress in colleges - its sad to see some organizations like Scientology fighting the improvements in mental health treatments in Florida, and making it more difficult to catch the illness early, when treatment is most effective.

Read the full story at: Colleges target mental health

More information on campus groups:

Active Minds - at ActiveMindsOnCampus.org


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