College Mental Health
Daniel Kirsch, MD, UMass Medical School / UMass Memorial Health Care
Michelle Riba, MD, University of Michigan
College has been called “the age of depression.” It’s no surprise that depression is so prevalent in college students. The symptoms of depression are most commonly seen first in the early teen years and increase through the college years. College brings with it new sources of stress, and more easy access to unhealthy coping mechanisms like alcohol, all while students are adjusting to life beyond the familiar support systems of home. Those and other factors can trigger depression. The consequences for this population are significant. Depression is the number one risk factor for suicide, and suicide is the second-leading cause of death among college students.
To address this urgent mental health issue, the College Mental Health Task Group, started in February 2011, is working to identify resources available to researchers, clinicians and educators working in the field of college mental health. In addition, the Task Group members have identified college depression education outreach programs at their NNDC Centers of Excellence with the potential to be disseminated and implemented at other member centers. Examples include the Depression on College Campuses initiative, a conference which began in 2001 at the University of Michigan, and Campus MindWorks, a web-based initiative developed at the University of Michigan Depression Center and supported by the U.S. Department of Education. The College Mental Health Task Group is currently comprised of 25 members representing 13 NNDC Centers of Excellence.