As students headed back to college this fall, APA renewed its focus on
helping to prevent mental illness among college students and educating the
public about the importance of prevention and treatment of mental health
problems in students. Common problems include eating disorders, depression,
and alcohol abuse.
As part of its second annual public-awareness campaign regarding college
mental health issues, APA has added to its<www.healthyminds.org>
Web site information on alcohol abuse among college students, including
statistics and a new fact sheet.
Among those troubling statistics, according to the Web site, is that 1,700
students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related
unintentional injuries, including car accidents. In addition, approximately 18
percent of U.S. college students questioned in a recent study had an
alcohol-abuse problem, compared with 15 percent of their peers who are not
The College Mental Health portion of the Web site also includes information
on eating disorders, depression, and tips on maintaining good mental health
during times of disaster.
"More and more, we're seeing students with serious psychopathology on
college campuses," Rachel Glick, M.D., told Psychiatric News.
Glick is co-chair of the APA Presidential Task Force on Mental Health on
College Campuses and associate chair for clinical and administrative affairs
and clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan
"I believe it is vital that psychiatrists weigh in and help to
provide mental health care to students," she emphasized.
On a segment of the HealthyMinds site titled "APA Expert
Opinion," Glick answers questions about eating disorders, depression,
and excessive drinking.
She pointed out that the general public may take too benign a view of
drinking on college campuses, refusing to consider it as problematic or to
identify excessive drinking by students as a mental health problem.
However, she noted that many young people who abuse alcohol are
self-medicating due to symptoms of an underlying mental health problem such as
depression or anxiety, further highlighting the need for psychiatric
involvement in addressing these mental health concerns on campus.
APA launched its first public awareness campaign on college mental health
in fall 2005.
According to an APA position statement issued that year on college mental
health issues, an increasing number of students in recent years begin their
college experience already taking psychiatric medications, "and most
colleges report increases in medications being prescribed" by staff at
college counseling centers. With this situation in mind, APA recommended that
in an effort to improve mental health among college students, colleges and
universities increase efforts to encourage students to make use of psychiatric
services. The APA statement also urged college administrators to ensure that
psychiatrists have "significant participation" in assessment of
and treatment planning for students receiving mental health services on campus
and offer students insurance coverage for mental health care.
Glick suggested that psychiatrists can get involved at the local level by
offering to serve as consultants on local college campuses or by joining APA's
College Mental Health list serve.
Past APA President michelle Riba, M.D., who convened the Presidential Task
Force on Mental Health on College Campuses in January 2005, told
Psychiatric News that she has been pleased to see her efforts to
improve the mental health of college students continue with her successors,
Steven Sharfstein, M.D., and Pedro Ruiz, M.D.
"Psychiatrists play a vital role in college mental health," she
noted. "There are a number of psychiatrists who have been working in
this area, and it was great to be able to find an effective and collaborative
voice for them."
More information on APA's 2006 Campaign on College Mental Health is
posted on the Web at<www.healthyminds.org>.
APA members can join APA's list serve on college mental health by sending an
e-mail request to