What should you say to someone bereaved by suicide?

At every moment of every day someone is grieving the loss of another person by suicide. But when you know a person or family scarred by this awful loss, it can seem impossible to know what to say.

As a result, you may feel embarrassed or awkward about talking to the bereaved but if you avoid speaking to them or avoid all mention of the dead person, they may feel rejected and isolated.

But what should you say? You don’t have to say anything. There is no formula of words that will take the pain away. Just listen and if the bereaved person wants to tell the story a hundred times, let them.

Here are some guidelines for being supportive to people in this cruel situation: – Avoid the temptation to indulge in comforting clichés. Examples include: “Time will heal,” “He/she is at peace now,” “You’re strong.”

– Saying that the person “wasn’t in his/her right mind” can seem disrespectful to the person who died.

– And don’t say “I know how you feel” unless you, too, have been bereaved by the suicide of a person very close to you.

– When you are in a conversation in which the survivors are talking about the dead person, use the person’s name. Not doing so could give the impression that the dead person is being forgotten.

– Don’t judge the person who died. Calling them selfish, cowardly, weak, brave or strong is just not helpful and may be very hurtful as well as untrue.

– Don’t be afraid to tell the bereaved person that you just don’t know what to say. A way to open up the conversation is simply to ask “How are you getting on?” and listen to the answer.

Support after Suicide has additional suggestions which include:

– Maintain contact personally or by telephone, notes, cards. Visits need not be long.

– Offer specific practical help, such as bringing in a cooked meal, taking care of the children, cutting the grass, shopping.

– Be aware of and acknowledge special times that might be significant, and particularly difficult, for the bereaved person such as Christmas, anniversaries, birthdays, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc.

In a sense what you are doing is being there for the bereaved family in their search for an understanding of this terrible event. Very often, people have to accept that they will never arrive at that understanding. As the You are not alone booklet puts it: “Although a stressful event may appear to have been the trigger, it will seldom have been the sole reason for death. Ultimately, the bereaved will have to live with their loss, in their own way, albeit without having all the answers.”

Survivors often blame themselves or each other while absolving the person who died of all responsibility. The role of providing sensitive outside support, especially a listening ear, is all the more important when you consider this: “Often, in trying to cope with the impact of the death, family members are unable to offer one another support . . . Frequently, feelings of bitterness towards one another may surface.”

So the support you give, just by expressing sympathy and being there to listen, may be all that some family members are getting.

The funeral is also an important aspect of support. According to You are not alone, families who have been bereaved by suicide “emphasise the benefits of and comfort in having a public funeral so that adequate tribute is given to the deceased”.

Sometimes we hear criticisms of the creation of Facebook tribute pages to someone who has died by suicide. But so long as the page doesn’t glorify suicide, so long as it reflects grief and loss as well as love and friends it shouldn’t be counterproductive

Mariah Carey begins new conversation with hopes of normalizing Bipolar Disorder

Mariah Carey opened up about living with bipolar disorder in an article for People magazine on Wednesday. This is the first time the singer has spoken publicly about her diagnosis.

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Carey told People she was diagnosed in 2001, but “didn’t want to believe it.” After experiencing what she called the “hardest couple of years I’ve been through,” she finally reached out for treatment.

Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me. It was too heavy a burden to carry and I simply couldn’t do that anymore. I sought and received treatment, I put positive people around me and I got back to doing what I love — writing songs and making music.

When she first experienced symptoms, Carey said she thought she had a sleep disorder — but soon realized her trouble sleeping was actually due to hypomania, characteristic of bipolar II disorder.

It wasn’t normal insomnia and I wasn’t lying awake counting sheep. I was working and working and working … I was irritable and in constant fear of letting people down. It turns out that I was experiencing a form of mania. Eventually I would just hit a wall. I guess my depressive episodes were characterized by having very low energy. I would feel so lonely and sad — even guilty that I wasn’t doing what I needed to be doing for my career.

Fans on Twitter reacted positively to the news of Carey’s diagnosis, congratulating her for speaking out:

maria yagoda

@mariayagoda

brave as heck. her courage will save lives. 👑 https://twitter.com/people/status/984028774714003458 

maria yagoda

@mariayagoda

mariah carey’s honesty about finding medication & treatment is SO important in a world where ppl with mental illnesses are doubly stigmatized for taking meds. http://people.com/music/mariah-carey-bipolar-disorder-diagnosis-exclusive/?xid=socialflow_twitter_peoplemag&utm_campaign=peoplemagazine&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com 

Mariah Carey: My Battle with Bipolar Disorder

In this week’s PEOPLE cover story, Mariah Carey reveals for the first time her battle with bipolar disorder

people.com

Aadam@AadamDunn

This is so brave, imagine if Mariah Carey said she had bipolar in 2001 she would’ve been written off. Shows how much things have changed in 17 Years. https://twitter.com/mariahcarey/status/984025281957629953 

Olivia@selfloveliv

So @MariahCarey has come forward with her diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, and I feel really good about this because it starts a conversation. Let’s end the stigma and help raise awareness for mental health!
Go Mariah!! ❤️

Carey said she’s in a good place right now, although she knows how isolating the stigma of mental illness can be. “I’m hopeful we can get to a place where the stigma is lifted from people going through anything alone,” she said. “It does not have to define you and I refuse to allow it to define me or control me.”

Archived: walkout support letter

We are sending this to show our support for those students who walked out of class as a part of the National School Walkout on March 14. We believe that it is these students’ First Amendment right of free speech and right to peacefully assemble to walk out and fight for what they believe in.

This right was affirmed in the Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, where Justice Abe Fortas read, in the majority opinion, that students did not lose their First Amendment right to freedom of speech when they enter the school building. This opinion also stated that students have the right to peacefully protest as long as it did not interfere with the “operation of the school.”

We do not believe that this 17 minutes interfered with the education of these students, in fact we believe it only enhanced this education. The point of the public school system is to teach students to become good citizens and to be active in our political system. There is no greater way to be active in our political system than to protest and speak up for what you believe in. We believe by telling these students that they could not partake in the walkout you are telling them that peaceful protest is not OK and that they do not have their First Amendment rights in your school.

To be clear, we are not pressing any political opinion as it comes to gun control or school safety with this letter, we are simply stating that we believe that you, as a school, are infringing on the First Amendment rights of students as affirmed in the case Tinker v. Des Moines.

Why gay porn is helping to fuel body dissatisfaction for gay men

Men are resorting to drastic measures to live up to an unrealistic body-image ideal, with pornography fuelling their desire for perfection.

Gay men especially are vulnerable to body dissatisfaction which can bring with it a psychological disorder called muscle dysmorphia — the flipside of anorexia — a condition characterised by obsessive worrying over a perceived small body.

Research shows that users of Australia’s most commonly injected drug — anabolic steroids — often showed signs of muscle dysmorphia.

Dr Scott Griffiths, an early career fellow from the National Health and Medical Research Council, said while not all steroid users had a psychological disorder, it was definitely a “red flag” for the screening of muscle dysmorphia.

Although there are no prevalence statistics for muscle dysmorphia, Dr Griffiths said half the men with muscle dysmorphia used steroids.

PHOTO Seeking perfection: Paul started weightlifting 10 years ago.

ABC CENTRAL VICTORIA: LARISSA ROMENSKY

Dr Griffiths said usage of steroids was alarming.

”It’s ahead of methamphetamine and heroin and all the others,” Dr Griffiths said.

“It’s not like we’ve had a current explosion of athletes in the country, we just have more and more men who are unhappy about their appearance, and a lot of those will have muscle dysmorphia.”

Pressure in the gay community

Dr Griffiths said there had been numerous studies on the effect of idealised images of women on the female population.

But he said the use of pornography among men, especially gay men, had not been so well researched.

Dr Griffiths and his associates recently released the results of a nationwide survey of 2,733 gay men across Australia and New Zealand and found that increased pornography use was associated with body dissatisfaction.

“The more you are exposed to pornography, the more likely you are to have eating disorder symptoms,” Dr Griffiths said.

He said those surveyed said dissatisfaction included concerns about height, muscularity and body fat and also more frequent thoughts about steroid use.

We asked if you felt pressured to increase your body mass in order to live up to unrealistic body portrayals.

Idealised masculine imagery

The hypothesis of the survey included the distinction between amateur pornography with more “regular people” to more professional pornography characterised by unrealistic bodies.

“The strength of that relationship [between anabolic steroid use and pornography] is stronger if you’re watching more professional than amateur pornography,” Dr Griffiths said.

He said the pressure was greater in the gay male community as it was widely acknowledged appearance and bodily standards were of more importance compared to the heterosexual community.

“In part, it might reflect that men more than women place a premium on attractiveness as an indicator of preference,” Dr Griffiths said.

“Attractiveness ranks relatively higher for men than it does for women.”

Paul, a regular gym goer, agreed that there was a lot of pressure in the gay community to conform to an idealised masculine image.

PHOTO Paul sees a therapist and listens closely to his trainer of 10 years, John.

ABC CENTRAL VICTORIA: LARISSA ROMENSKY

“Anyone would know that a lot of the gay community here in Australia and pretty much all over the world, is very aesthetic,” he said.

”It’s all about body image, body type, what he looks like, muscles all that sort of stuff.

“Part of me is trying to fit into that.”

Paul [not his real name] said single gay men often used dating apps such as Grindr, but 40 per cent of the images on the site were of faceless, buffed torsos.

“They would receive a lot more attention than a photo with a face,” said the 39-year-old.

Steroid use comes with a cost

He admits to watching amateur gay porn every day when he was younger, and said he struggled to look at himself in the mirror.

When he finally came out in his late 20s after years of suppressing his identity because of his strict Greek background, he found it liberating.

But he also discovered a new kind of stress — the pressure in the male, gay community to look a certain way.

It continues to this day.

For the past three to four years he has upped the ante in his weightlifting regime, including a six-month stint a year ago injecting prescribed anabolic steroids.

“I went to that extreme of paying five to six hundred dollars for a four to five-week cycle and injecting myself, or getting my partner to inject me, to help gain mass and be who I wanted to be,” he said.

“No matter how many times people say, ‘You look amazing, you look pumped’ — it’s still in my head that I’m that skinny person.”

While Paul’s weight increased so did his confidence, but steroid use came with a cost.

“After your cycle, there is a come down period which means mentally you drop back to a level that you were prior or perhaps even worse,” Paul said.

Under the supervision of a clinical doctor, a cocktail of drugs was also injected as a precaution to counter the physiological side effects, such as lack of testosterone production and a build-up of estrogen.

While he eventually stopped taking the steroids, partially for financial reasons he said he would “never say never”.

PHOTO Paul says it is harder to build body mass after the age of 40.

ABC CENTRAL VICTORIA: LARISSA ROMENSKY

Paul is still battling with the need to get bigger in an effort to leave the young skinny boy behind.

But he has also started seeing a therapist.

“My therapist digs deep and finds these issues that I need to deal with,” he said.

“I found what has worked for me is to focus on me being happy personally and looking at my own reflection rather than getting that validation from the community, and that’s a big thing that’s taken me a long time to understand.”

If you, or anyone you know is experiencing an eating disorder or body image concerns, you can call the Butterfly Foundation National Helpline on 1800 33 4673 or email support@thebutterflyfoundation.org.au

’13 Reasons Why’ to Address Suicide Controversy With New Warning Video

In response to a study on how the Selena Gomez-produced teen suicide drama influenced teens, Netflix launched a custom video & website of resources.

Netflix has made several changes surrounding the forthcoming second season of 13 Reasons Why — but the authenticity of the streamer’s hit teen drama will remain in tact.

After becoming an instant phenomenon following its March 2017 launch, showrunner Brian Yorkey’s adaptation of the best-selling novel also found itself thrust into a global conversation about how the series handled some of the tougher topics addressed in the high school drama, namely the graphic depiction of teenager Hannah Baker’s (Katherine Langford) suicide. The series revolves around Hannah’s unexplained suicide — which was shown up close — and the 13 audiotapes she left behind for her classmates, including star Dylan Minnette, who were left to decipher and ultimately understand why she took her life.

While the series was praised for raising awareness to traumas facing teens including suicide, sexual assault, substance abuse and bullying, 13 Reasons Why also faced criticism for “glorifying” suicide from mental health advocates and for triggering a surge in online searches.

In response to the backlash, the streaming giant added warning cards and crisis hotlines and, as season two approaches, Netflix will dig deeper to understand the controversy. In a bid to better understand the conversation surrounding the show between teens and parents, Netflix commissioned a global research study with Northwestern University’s Center on Media and Human Development, “Exploring How Teens and Parents Responded to 13 Reasons Why.” The results were shared Wednesday at a panel in New York that featured experts in suicide prevention and teen activism, as well as Netflix original series vp Brian Wright and 13 Reasons Why showrunner and creator Yorkey.

The study was commissioned in late summer, with data collected in November. The results were delivered to Netflix two weeks ago, with the streamer now announcing a wave of changes based on recommendations from the study that included a custom introduction for each season and a season two aftershow. A formal premiere date has not yet been announced but Wright confirmed it will return this year. Production on season two wrapped before the study was completed, so the results of the investigation will not have had any impact on the show’s creative.

“When we took on adapting the book, we knew it was a cultural force already,” Yorkey said during the panel. “From the very first meeting I had with [executive producers] Selena Gomez and [her mother] Mandy Teefey, we said, ‘We have to portray this story as authentically as we can. We have to tell the truth.'”

He said that plan continued when he began writing the second season last February. “The challenge of when you are making a piece of entertainment for young viewers is that you want very much to make something that has a positive impact on their lives, but the instant that you become instructive and try to tell them the message that you want to convey and the right choices to make, they will tune out. They will feel pandered to,” he said. “From the beginning, we knew that we had to tell the stories as honestly as we could, that we had to portray these characters and the things that they go through with as much authenticity as we could bring to it, and especially that these tough topics deserved the most honestly in order to make something that teens would look at and recognize in this show their lives, themselves, people that they know and things they are going through. That was our mission from the very first moment and it’s really exciting to see that born out of the research.”

After talking to more than 5,000 teens and parents in five countries, Northwestern’s study found that a majority of the teens said they related to the characters and felt that the series was an authentic depiction of high school life. A range of 63 to 74 percent felt that the intensity of the show was appropriate and 63 to 79 percent felt that the graphic nature of Hannah’s death was necessary to show how painful suicide is. Overall, the study found that the show “opened their eyes” about how people their age may be affected by depression. (Complete results can be viewed here.)

Part of the conclusion presented by the center’s director, Dr. Ellen Wartella, included the opinion that there is area for improvement when dealing with such topics in entertainment. In response to recommendations for how media can better provide to support to both teens and parents of teens, Netflix announced several changes, including an introductory video from the cast breaking character to warn viewers about the topics and nature of the show and recommend how they get support if needed. The custom intro (watch that, above) will also be added ahead of the first season for viewers who are new to the series or who opt to rewatch ahead of season two, where it will also be included.

“When you press play on series, that will be the first thing everyone sees,” Wright said of the video, which features Langford (Hannah), Minnette (Clay), Justin Prentice (Bryce) and Alisha Boe (Jessica). The end of the video prompts viewers to visit 13ReasonsWhy.Info, where Netflix has added additional resources from mental heath experts, including a downloadable discussion guide created with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Netflix has also launched a season two aftershow, Beyond the Reasons, that will play after the 13th and final episode to continue the conversation with castmembers, experts and producers talking about some of the show’s tough topics. Wartella told THR that included in her recommendations was also having mental health professionals discussing the difficult episodes.

Yorkey told THR he only viewed the results of the study days ahead of the panel and Wright clarified that the research was not conducted to impact the show’s content. Instead it “emboldens” them to believe the show is playing a role in critical conversations. “The content of the show hasn’t changed but the research showed that people are craving more information and they are craving help,” he said. “I’ve always felt this show had the ability to start a really important dialogue. I do think that’s what we saw born out of season one and through the research — that it made people talk. I never would have predicted that it would have done that extra thing, which is to make people act more kindly to each other, and we’ve also seen that in the research and for me that is incredibly powerful. That’s the power of art.”

As for the decision to renew the series for a second season — the freshman run, like HBO’s Big Little Lies and Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, covered the entire book that served as inspiration for the series — Wright said Yorkey had a potential path forward, and later invited Netflix to the writers room to see what he had come up with, a plan that immediately excited the powers that be.

“The book concludes at the same place season one concluded and we were, at Netflix prepared for it to be only one season, if that was what the best version of the show was,” said Wright about the controversial decision to renew the drama. “Brian walked us through a vision for season two that not only continues the story, it continues these characters’ journeys. It continues this dialogue and conversations and the expirations of some of these super tough topics, but in a way that’s always wrapped in a very entertaining and propulsive thread in the story.”

Here’s the link to the PSA from NETFLIX https://youtu.be/WU-iQ9mA31Y

Contributed from Billboard Musics’ Jackie Strause

Surging Demand for Mental Health Care Jams College Services

Students may wait weeks for a basic consultation; sometimes even longer to see a psychiatrist
-Jacob Griffin,Executive Director of Student Mental Health Policy Alliance

Colleges across the country are failing to keep up with a troubling spike in demand for mental health care — leaving students stuck on waiting lists for weeks, unable to get help.

STAT surveyed dozens of universities about their mental health services. From major public institutions to small elite colleges, a striking pattern emerged: Students often have to wait weeks just for an initial intake exam to review their symptoms. The wait to see a psychiatrist who can prescribe or adjust medication — often a part-time employee — may be longer still.

Students on many campuses are so frustrated that they launched a petition last month demanding expanded services. They plan to send it to 20 top universities, including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, MIT, and Columbia, where seven students have died this school year from suicide and suspected drug overdose.

“Students are turned away every day from receiving the treatment they need, and multiple suicide attempts and deaths go virtually ignored each semester,” the petition reads. More than 700 people have signed; many have left comments about their personal experiences trying to get counseling at college. “I’m signing because if a kid in crisis needs help they should not have to wait,” one wrote.

STAT requested information from 98 campuses across the country and received answers from 50 of those schools. Among the findings:

At Northwestern University, it can take up to three weeks to get a counseling appointment. At Washington University in St. Louis, the wait time runs nearly 13 days, on average, in the fall semester.

At the University of Washington in Seattle, delays in getting care are so routine, the wait time is posted online; it’s consistently hovered between two and three weeks in recent months. In Florida, where educators are pressing the state legislature for millions in new funding to hire counselors, the wait times at University of Florida campuses can stretch two weeks.

Smaller schools aren’t exempt, either: At Carleton College, a liberal arts campus in Northfield, Minn., the wait list can stretch up to 10 days.

A few weeks’ wait may not seem like much. After all, it often takes that long, or longer, for adults to land a medical appointment with a specialist. But such wait times can be brutal for college students — who may be away from home for the first time, without a support network, and up against more academic and peer pressure than ever before. Every class, every meal, every party can become a hurdle for students struggling with eating disorders, depression, and other issues.

Many counseling centers say that they are often overwhelmed during the most stressful times for students, such as midterms and finals. Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., for example, reports a wait time of up to a month during busy periods.

In most instances, STAT’s examination found, students who say that they are suicidal are seen at once, and suicide hotlines are available for after-hours emergencies. But some students are uncomfortable acknowledging an impulse to harm themselves, and thus get pushed to the end of the line, along with undergrads struggling with concerns ranging from acute anxiety to gender identity issues.

Campus counselors are acutely aware that they’re leaving students stranded but say they don’t have the resources to do better.

“You’re making sure people are safe in the moment,” said Ben Locke, who runs a national college counseling network and directs counseling services at Pennsylvania State University. “But you’re not treating the depression or the panic attacks or the eating disorders.”

‘I NEEDED TO SEE SOMEONE’

Constance Rodenbarger, now in her third year at Indiana University, first sought help at the counseling center in her second semester, as she struggled to deal with an abusive relationship on top of long-term depression. The next appointment was at least two weeks away.

“I was just looking at that date on the calendar and thinking, ‘If I can just make it one more day,’ but then it became just one more hour, and then one more minute,” she said.

“I just couldn’t hang on.”

The day before her appointment, on Nov. 17, 2014, she tried to kill herself.

Her roommate found her, and Rodenbarger was rushed to the hospital. She called the counseling center from the hospital to say she wouldn’t be able to make it in the next day.

“When I called that day and said, ‘I need to see someone,’ I needed to see someone,” she said.

Indiana University now says it connects with all students who seek counseling within two days. But that connection can involve simply setting up an appointment — for up to three weeks away.

“We, like centers across the country, are working on expanding our staff,” said Nancy Stockton, the director of Indiana University’s counseling center. “We certainly need more clinicians.”

Indiana University and several other large schools said they employ one counselor for roughly every 1,500 undergraduates. That’s at the high end of the range recommended by national experts. The numbers reported in an annual national survey are even more stark: In 2015, large campuses reported an average of one licensed mental health provider per 3,500 students.

When students do get in to campus counseling centers, most see therapists, social workers, or perhaps psychologists.

Just 6 in 10 college counseling centers have a psychiatrist available, even part-time, to prescribe or adjust medications, according to the annual survey, conducted by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors. That’s a serious mismatch, given that about one-quarter of college students who seek mental health services take psychotropic medications.

There are other hurdles, too. While many schools tout free counseling, they often cap that benefit. Students at Brown University, for instance, get seven free sessions a year. At Indiana University, students get just two free sessions and then pay $30 per visit.

And it can be hard for students to develop a consistent relationship with a therapist when so many college mental health providers work limited hours. Wellesley College, for example, has a counseling staff which includes six therapists — but three of them are only on campus part-time.

While dozens of colleges provided STAT with detailed information about their mental health resources, the public relations staff at others, including Georgetown University, Dartmouth College, and Grinnell College, refused to provide information after repeated requests.

Others, such as Harvard and Yale, declined to provide specific staffing information. In some cases, such as with the US Merchant Marine Academy, media relations staff expressed discomfort about being compared to other colleges.

Columbia University told STAT it employs the equivalent of 41 full-time counselors for just over 6,000 students, which would be an enviable staffing level, far better than most other schools its size. Columbia said its wait time varies, but did not provide a specific range. All enrollment numbers come from U.S. News and World Report.

A SPIKE IN CRISIS CASES

Demand for counseling on college campuses has been rising steadily for several years.

And the latest data, released in January, show a recent spike in cases of students in acute crisis.

One in three students who sought counseling last year said they’d seriously considered suicide at some point in their lives, according to a report out last month from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health. That’s up from fewer than 1 in 4 students in 2010.

And those are just the students who admit they’re in crisis. Untold others don’t know how to respond when an employee at the counseling center asks if it’s an emergency. They may downplay their situation, telling themselves others are in more dire condition or it must not be a true crisis if they have the presence of mind to ask for help.

That’s what happened to Adrienne Baer during the fall of 2015, in her junior year at the University of Maryland. Both her grandparents had recently died. So had a high school friend.

“It was a lot to wrap my head around,” she said. With a push from friends, she decided to call the counseling center. “I didn’t exactly have an education on what their resources were, but I got one,” Baer said.

Baer said she was asked on the phone whether she was experiencing an emergency. She didn’t know how to answer that: No one gave her a definition. So she said no and was shunted to the end of the waiting list. It would be two weeks before she could see a counselor.

She dashed off an angry email to the counseling center the minute she hung up the phone:

“I am currently struggling with the issues I wanted to discuss with a therapist or counselor, but even I don’t know how I’ll be in 24 hours, let alone 2 weeks.…

I don’t know if all that constitutes an emergency or if I need to have a mental breakdown to be seen prior to a two week wait but I am seriously disappointed in the lack of availability in mental health resources.”

That got their attention. She was given a quick appointment for an initial assessment. But for continuing care, Baer was put back on the waiting list. It would be five weeks before she could see a psychiatrist who could prescribe medication.

“I had to wait. There was nothing I could do,” said Baer, now a senior. “It was just a roller coaster that I couldn’t control.”

Sharon Kirkland-Gordon, director of the University of Maryland’s counseling center, said she knows her staff can’t keep up with demand, though she said they’re “working overtime to meet the needs of students.”

Requests for appointments shot up 16 percent last year alone, she said.

Nationally, about six in 10 undergrads seeking counseling are women, and 5 percent are international students. There are roughly an equal numberof freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

Kirkland-Gordon has started to bring on part-time seasonal staff to help handle the workload. Many campuses also use therapists who are still in training work one-on-one with students, as long as they report to licensed counselors.

“If we had a magic wand, I think you’d probably hear the same thing from all of us counseling directors,” said Kirkland-Gordon. Their wish list is simple: more resources.

No one is entirely sure why student demand for mental health services is rising; factors may include increased pressure from parents or peers on social media, or a difficult job market. Another possible reason: increased awareness about the risk of mental health conditions.

In the past decade, the federal government has given out tens of millions in grants to suicide prevention programs that raised awareness of risk factors. A generation of students trained by such programs is now in college — and seeking help when they feel warning signs. But not every college got a bump in funding to meet the surge in demand.

“If you want a perfect recipe to generate reduced availability of treatment, that would be it,” said Locke, of Penn State, who also serves as director of the Center for Collegiate Mental Health, a national network.

Locke notes that college health centers would never require a student with strep throat to wait two weeks for an appointment. Yet that’s what’s happening to many students with anxiety, depression, and other serious mental health concerns. “It puts the student’s academic career, and potentially their life, at risk,” he said.

As for Baer, she said she made it through that stressful semester by leaning on friends at school and family back in Pennsylvania. She wonders what would’ve happened to an international student or to a freshman without a reliable support network.

“I do feel like I fell through the cracks,” she said, “but I feel like I fell onto a safety net that other people might not have.”

A COLLEGE PRESIDENT SOUNDS THE ALARM

In an era when colleges are ranked by the number of their professors and the quality of their food — or whether their gyms house rock-climbing walls — it can be tough for the counseling centers to make a case for more resources.

Some turn to quick fixes, touting “stress-busting” programs like bringing in puppies for students to pet during midterms or handing out free cookies in the library during finals.

Others are making a concerted effort to respond to the surging demand.

The wait times at Ohio State University were so alarming to Dr. Michael Drake — a physician who stepped into the president’s office in 2014 — that he hired more than a dozen new counselors. That pushed the school’s ratio down to one provider for roughly every 1,100 undergraduates.

“We were doing it to really smooth the pathway of success for students,” Drake said. National data suggest the additional providers will help; 7 in 10 students who seek counseling say the mental health care improved their academic performance.

The University of California system moved to update counseling services in 2014, as wait lists grew and students with acute needs sought care. It took another year to get a dedicated funding stream to hire more counselors, in the form of increased student fees.

“Things start to back up like a traffic jam,” said Gary Dunn, director of counseling and psychological services for the University of California, Santa Cruz. “A lot can happen in four or five weeks during a quarter in college. It really wasn’t OK to have that delay in place.”

Students who have lived through mental health crises welcome more staff. But they also urge better training so that everyone on campus knows to treat mental health concerns as seriously, and with as much empathy, as a physical injury.

Nick, who asked that his last name not be used, was diagnosed with depression before college and had a difficult transition to his freshman year at Ithaca College in upstate New York. “I had no idea how to cope with all of it and I floundered a bit,” he said in an interview.

He sought help early on — during orientation — because he knew he’d likely need it. But he said he was bounced between two counselors and had difficulty getting appointments that fit into his schedule. In the end, he had to pay for a private mental health specialist off campus.

Ithaca did not respond to requests for information on its mental health services, saying its counseling center staff was busy. At the time he sought care, Nick said there were just two counselors for the school’s 7,000 students.

“I was so badly handled. Not by any fault of their own, they were just woefully underprepared,” he said.

This year, by contrast, he had to take time off for a surgery. Getting help with a physical injury was a breeze, he said.

“The administration and professors have been much more understanding and willing to help when it’s something tangible and physical,” he said, “when the doctors can say, ‘Here’s what’s wrong with you and here’s how you can fix it.’”

DRAWING LESSONS FROM TRAUMA

Rodenbarger, the Indiana University student, is still feeling the echoes of her struggles to get mental health help on campus. Her suicide attempt cost her both her job and her off-campus apartment. The medication she was put on cost her a pilot’s license.

But she is recovering — with the help of a mental health provider off campus. She’s easing off the medication. She’s on track to graduate in the summer of 2018 with two degrees, a fine arts degree in printmaking and another in astronautics.

She’s also excited to have seen the school expand its walk-in services for students in need of urgent mental health care. It’s a step forward — and she wants to see more like it.

“Had I gotten help when I reached out for it,” she said, “it would never have gotten to the level that it did.”

CULTIVATING MEDIA PLACEMENT

 

Happy DisAbility Awareness Month!

         This information includes ideas on how to get your story or issues covered by assignment editors at print and online media and how to conduct a Media Watch to help reporters become better informed about the appropriate ways to portray people with disabilities or disability issues.

Another Awareness Month packet that might be useful in working with the media is Media Public Service Announcements.

MEDIA WATCH

How to Participate in Media Watch

Read your local/regional newspapers and their online editions daily and be on the lookout for television or radio programs, blogs or other items that feature a person with a disability or a disability-related issue. It might help to have a notepad nearby so you will be ready to jot down the facts of a media presentation.

After encountering a portrayal of an individual with a disability (positive or negative), respond to the media source as soon as possible. Simply use the enclosed sample email, or if you have time write your own email (See the enclosed suggested paragraphs for composing your own email). Email it with an attached copy of Guidelines for Reporting and Writing about People with Disabilities. In your email be sure to praise journalists who appropriately portray people with disabilities/disability issues and educate journalists who use inappropriate portrayals of people with disabilities/disability issues.

 

Tips for Writing a Successful Email

  1. Be Timely. Write your email as soon as possible after the article is published or the story is aired.
  2. Keep It Simple. Two or three paragraphs should be plenty to convey your message while still keeping the attention of the reader. Edit your emails to make them easier to read.
  3. Use Facts. Relay the details of the news story accurately (date, web URL, page number, name of news program, journalist, etc).
  4. Be Polite. You will be more likely to get your point across if you assume a journalist is uninformed about disability issues but willing to learn about more appropriate portrayals.
  5. Be Helpful. Offer yourself, or any organization to which you belong, as a resource on disability issues for the journalist.
  6. Be Personal. Identify yourself as a reader/viewer/listener and mention your organization if applicable. Personal messages from media customers are very effective.
  7. Follow-through. If you receive a response to your email that you disagree with, or if the media organization continues portraying people with disabilities in an inappropriate manner, revise the information and resend it.

 

 

EDITORIAL PLACEMENT

 

What Makes a Good Story?       

Editors at local print and online media outlets are always interested in a “good story.” So what makes a story idea attract an editor’s attention? For most editors, one or more of the following characteristics make a story newsworthy:

  • Information – provides facts that readers/listeners/viewers don’t already know.
  • Timeliness – relates to upcoming community events and allows time for people 
 to take advantage of the information.
  • Significance – will affect the lives of readers/listeners/viewers.
  • Scope – impacts a majority of community members.
  • Interest – attracts and holds attention, sometimes because of famous participants.
  • Uniqueness – is unlike other information/event.
  • Human interest – stirs empathy in readers/listeners/viewers.
  • Relevance – enhances public understanding of a constant or pressing local issue.

 

 

 

 

When working with media, you will find that editors – from print media, online, radio or television – are not all alike and will not all agree on what is “news.” Perseverance; a helpful, friendly attitude; and knowing when to say “thank you anyway” will be your greatest assets when dealing with the media.

Below are some step-by-step guidelines that will help you place editorial materials with your local media.

 

Story Ideas

Try to generate story ideas. Remember, the story idea must fit the media format. For example, television requires a very “visual” story that will make for good video footage. A simple interview with an expert is often not enough. Children participating in Awareness Month activities, however, would provide interesting visual material. Radio programs would welcome experts on controversial topics, such as “inclusion.” These experts make for interesting call-in shows. Daily newspapers and their online partners favor stories with a universal human interest angle and a visual side for good photos. Weeklies are more likely to use photos you provide. Other publications, such as blogs, online newspapers and newsletters for local organizations or companies, might have other requirements.

Special events, such as barrier awareness demonstrations, can provide good media opportunities, especially if a celebrity or political leader participates. You can also request on-the-air mentions from personalities, such as weather people or popular radio personalities.

 

Media Contacts

Call your local media and explain what organization you are with and that you are planning activities in conjunction with Disability Awareness Month (See enclosed Media Resources). Ask to talk to the assignment desk for radio or television or the editor of the blog or newspaper. If you are interested in getting a story on a certain radio or television show or in a particular section of a print or online publication, such as business or lifestyle, ask who is in charge of that show or section. Present your idea confidently, without being pushy, and explain its value to the publication or station’s audience. If the editor/news director is interested, ask how much time he or she needs to develop the story, what types of story ideas are of interest to their publication or station and how you can best help them.

At that point, you will probably be referred to a reporter. If the news person rejects one idea, mention some others. Ask if you can send your ideas in an email. Be sure to get the correct spelling of the person’s name, his or her correct title and email address.

You should personalize the enclosed editorial placement communication according to your discussion of story ideas. Include your organization’s name with some background information, a listing of local awareness activities, a contact person, email and phone number, and specific details about the story idea and arrangements for helping the story come about (i.e., times experts are available for interviews, times when visually appealing events are taking place and sources for background information on the topic). A week or so after sending the information, you might want to place a follow-up call and/or email if you have not received a response.

 

Statewide News Release

A copy of the Disability Awareness Month news release will be emailed statewide to daily and weekly newspapers in mid-February. When you talk to your local media representatives, mention the release. Ask if they received it and if they can use the material or would like you to provide names of local people who could address disability topics. If they have not received the release, contact Emily Kibling at Borshoff, (317) 631-6400 (voice), and she will promptly send another copy to them.

 

Developing a News Release or Media Advisory

In addition to the Council’s March Awareness Month news release you may want to issue a news release as another way to get media coverage for your own event. Depending on the event you can send a media advisory giving the date, time and purpose or a longer news release in the form of a story written in third person that might be run in a smaller paper as is or used as the basis for a story in a larger paper.

Top Ten News Release Tips

  1. Make sure the information is newsworthy.
  2. Tell the audience that the information is intended for them and why they should continue to read it.
  3. Start with a brief description of the news, then distinguish who announced it, and not the other way around.
  4. Ask yourself, “How are people going to relate to this and will they be able to connect?”
  5. Make sure the first 10 words of your release are effective, as they are the most important.
  6. Write it like a news article and avoid excessive use of adjectives and fancy language.
  7. Deal with the facts.
  8. Provide as much contact information as possible: Individual to contact, phone, email address and website address.
  9. Make sure you wait until you have something with enough substance to issue a release.
  10. Make it as easy as possible for media representatives to do their jobs.

 

(For specific formatting guidelines see the attached News Release and Media Advisory Format)

 

Calendar Listings

A good way to get information to the public about a Disability Awareness Month event is through the calendar/upcoming events section of your local paper and its online edition. First, call to get the contact’s name. Once you have the appropriate contact person, send him or her emailed information, including what your event is, who is participating, and the time, date and place of your event. Many media outlets also have calendar sections of their online editions on which you can post your own information. Note in the information that the event is open to the public and free of charge, if that is the case (sample calendar release enclosed).

 

Interview Preparation

Being prepared for an interview does a great deal to make the interview a success. You or your designated “expert” will have a better interview if you take time beforehand to familiarize yourself with the subject matter. Knowing the subject matter well is the best line of defense. Generate a list of questions the reporter might ask and develop answers.

Remember to use full names (not nicknames) and specific times (“March 1” rather than “recently”) and places. Give complete answers rather than just “yes” or “no.” “Talk in headlines,” getting main points across first. Know the name, phone number and email address of an appropriate contact person(s) or organization(s).

For television interviews, look at the interviewer rather than the camera. Ask the producer in advance if he or she would like to use any appropriate visuals (posters, photos, brochures). Arrive at the studio on time. Dress nicely, conservatively and comfortably. Find a comfortable seated position that looks good.

While the above suggestions will help make a smooth and effective interview, the most important thing to remember is to RELAX!

 

Assist the Media

Try to assist the media representative as much as possible. You will function as the liaison between the news person and the expert. Offer to provide sample questions if the news person wants them. You should be able to provide directions to events and proper dates and times. Let the news person determine scheduling as often as possible. Though it might not be wise to press the person to follow through with your story idea, it is appropriate to ask when a story will be printed or aired so that you can clip a copy or have it recorded.

 

Follow Up

Whenever you receive media coverage, follow up with a thank you email. A sample is enclosed. Please use this as a guide and personalize your email with appropriate information. The news person will appreciate the courtesy of a sincere “thanks.” It might be appropriate to have the executive director/chairperson of your organization send the email.

Sometimes a reporter with the best intentions inadvertently uses language in a story that creates negative impressions of people with disabilities. Examples include “the handicapped” or “the disabled person.” If you receive such media coverage, send a thank you email, but also include suggestions and a set of guidelines for correct language when referring to people with disabilities (enclosed sample email). Use the information suggested in the Media Watch section of this packet. Be sure to include a copy of “Guidelines for Reporting and Writing about People with Disabilities.

 


MEDIA WATCH EMAILS SAMPLE PARAGRAPHS

If you wish to write your own email rather than using the following prepared information, the sample copy below might give you some “starting points.” There are sample beginnings, middle paragraphs and/or endings to guide you when writing.

 

Sample Beginnings or Introductions

  • I would like to call to your attention an article in your paper/on your website/on your station that inappropriately portrayed a person with a disability as being a hero simply for living with a disability. (John Doe’s) accomplishments should be valued for themselves, not because (John Doe) accomplished them while having a disability.
  • On (date), newscaster (Mary Johnson) led a story on Medicaid by saying “the crippled are confined to more than wheelchairs (or other inappropriate language).” While I appreciate your attention to the problems of Medicaid for people with disabilities, I would like to point out to you the inappropriate usage of language describing people with disabilities by (Ms. Johnson.)
  • I am writing in response to an article entitled “Disabled Boy Makes Good” that appeared in the (local paper) on (month, date, and year) on page (xx).
  • I was very pleased to see your story on (Jane Smith) on the (date) edition of (program). While (Jane Smith) has visual impairments, your story focused on her talent as a violinist and her recital at the Opera House rather than on her disability.
  • I would like to thank (reporter) for his article on how the Americans with Disabilities Act has positively affected the lives of people with disabilities.

 

Sample Middle Paragraphs

Regarding: Disability as a Human Interest Story

While I realize that the life of a person with a disability seems like a good human interest story, there is a problem with the message this piece conveys. What the public learns from these stories is that if people with disabilities are simply “heroic,” we (they) can overcome any physical problem. However, the real problems people with disabilities face are not their own physical barriers, but are problems caused by societal barriers, such as a lack of curb cuts or interpreters and blatant job discrimination. The real human interest story is the story of the long fight for disability rights by the disability community.

Regarding: Person with Disability as Average Citizen

Approximately 54 million Americans have some kind of physical, sensory, cognitive or mental disability. People with disabilities are average American citizens and portraying them (us) as anything other than that results in marginalizing a large class of people. Thus, when covering an accomplishment (positive or negative) of a person who has a disability, please do not focus on the person’s disability. Only mention a person’s disability if the story is based on that disability.

Regarding: Language

In your article on (Professor Johnson’s) new book on (?), you describe him as “suffering from ____” and “confined to a wheelchair.” These terms have negative connotations that do not accurately describe the life of (Professor Johnson) nor of people with disabilities in general.

Instead of “suffering from __,” (Professor Johnson) is simply a person who has ______. Similarly, (Professor Johnson) is not “confined to a wheelchair,” but uses a wheelchair to get around. The terms used in your article evoke pity for (Professor Johnson) rather than respect.

The words and phrases used to describe people with disabilities help shape people’s perceptions. A person with a disability should always be referred to as a person first and not by his or her disability. Also, grouping individuals together as “the mentally retarded” or “the handicapped” puts the focus on the disability, rather than on the individual. The attached information describes in more detail the use of appropriate language for people with disabilities.

Regarding: The Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law on July 26, 1990, plays a vital role in creating a culture of independence among people with disabilities in the workplace. The Americans with Disabilities Act is not an unfunded mandate. Rather, the ADA is a civil rights law similar to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

 

Sample Endings

Thank you in advance for sharing this information with others on your staff. If you would like any additional information, please do not hesitate to email or call me.

Again, I would like to thank you for your positive portrayal of people with disabilities in your (newspaper/news program/etc.).

 

I would like to provide you with some resource materials to use when writing about people with disabilities.

 

One of the hallmarks of disability awareness is that people with disabilities be portrayed as individuals who are independent, productive and active community members. Thus, in writing and speaking about people with disabilities, the preferred usage is “People First Language.”

 

The basic premise behind “People First Language” is that people with disabilities are indeed people first. Thus, when one is speaking or writing about a person with a disability, it is more respectful and appropriate to focus on the person first rather than his or her disability. For example, rather than saying “the disabled,” say “person with a disability,” and rather than saying “afflicted with blindness,” say “a person who is blind.”

 

To further assist you in promoting “People First Language” among your staff and your readers, we are pleased to share the attached “Guidelines for Reporting and Writing About People with Disabilities,” a very helpful resource written especially for the media.

 

Please share this information with your staff. If you have any further questions about “People First Language” or the Americans with Disabilities Act, please contact me.
MEDIA RESOURCES AND TIME FRAMES

Media Contacts

 

Webpage links:

There are several websites that will let you link directly to the websites of Indiana media including radio, TV and newspapers. Most websites have instructions on how to submit letters to the editor or contact editors or reporters.

  • A list of media outlets and their websites, organized in alphabetical order by city: com/unitein.htm

 

Planning Time Tips

 

To encourage coverage of Disability Awareness Month activities it’s important to know deadlines. Media outlets are not all the same. When you contact the media depends on what type of coverage is desired. Following are some rules of thumb about media deadlines:

 

Radio and Television Public Service Announcements: Most stations prefer to have PSA scripts four to six weeks in advance of planned air dates.

 

Radio and Television Event Coverage: Send media advisories one to two days prior to your event. Follow up by phone a day or two before the event.

 

Daily Publications: If you are planning an event and want people to attend, send the news release a week in advance. For calendar sections, verify the deadlines, because they are often different than normal deadlines. If you want to generate coverage of a special event, email a release a week in advance and follow up by phone a day or two before the event.

 

Weekly Publications: Deadlines at weekly papers are generally about a week before publication, so send releases at least two weeks in advance.

 

Magazines: Magazines work four to five months in advance. Therefore, you might not be able to place announcements of your event. However, you can contact magazine editors to encourage coverage of your Awareness Month activities or to encourage them to interview experts or persons with disabilities.


News Release and Media Advisory Format

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE               Contact:     Erik Johnson

(DATE)                                                             erik.johnson@abcorg.com

(317) 123-4567

ABC Organization

 

ABC Organization announces

new format for media materials

 

Indianapolis — ABC Organization recently announced that it has finalized a standardized format for news releases. The change follows the official ABC Organization guidebook.

 

To comply with the ABC Organization news release format, write the words “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” in all caps in the upper left-hand corner of the page. The date the news is to be released should fall directly under “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.” List the names of one or two contact persons, their email addresses, phone numbers and company names in the upper right-hand corner of the first page.

 

Underneath the date and contact name(s), write the headline in cap/lowercase style, bold and in 12- or 14-point type. If the headline is more than one line, single-space the lines. Double-space the headline from the copy.

 

The name of the city where the news is taking place should begin the first paragraph of the release, which is not indented. Follow the city name with two dashes (–) and the lead paragraph.

 

Do not include the name of the state if the city is Indianapolis, because Indianapolis is on the Associated Press list of most recognizable U.S. cities and, therefore, does not need to be followed by a state name.

 

Single-space the body of the release and insert a hard return before each new paragraph. Do not break paragraphs at the end of a page. Also, center the word “more” — with dashes on either side of it — at the bottom of each continuing page.

 

*****************************************************************************

To draw attention to important information you don’t want to place at the end of the release, highlight the information in bold at the bottom of the first page of the release.

*****************************************************************************

-more-

 

 

ABC Organization/page 2

At the top left-hand corner of all pages, except page one, write one or two words describing the release, a slash mark and then the page number (ABC Organization/page 2). Do not spell out page numbers.

 

Three number symbols centered (# # #) at the bottom of the last page of the release tell the reader there are no more pages.

# # #

Editor’s Note. It is appropriate to place editors’ notes, photo opportunities, etc. below the “###.” If such notes are included, the words “editor’s note” or “photo opportunity” should be italicized, not bold. Single-space the copy.

 

 

 

(Date)                                                              Contact:                       Erik Johnson

erik.johnson@abcorg.com

(317) 123-4567

ABC Organization

 

Media Advisory

 

 

What               ABC Organization announces its new media advisory format.

 

 

When               May 10, 2008, 2:15 p.m.

 

 

Where             ABC Organization conference room

 

 

Why                In an effort to make company media materials more consistent, ABC Organization

                        has decided upon this particular format for media advisories.

 

Some items to note regarding the new media advisory format:

 

  • The headline is cap/lowercase, bold, 12- or 14-point type

 

  • The “Who, What, Where . . .” are cap/lowercase, bold and without colons

 

  • The contact name is in the upper right-hand corner of the page, followed by the phone number and the company name underneath

 

  • Use the number symbols (# # #) to indicate the end of the advisory

 

Note                 Do not feel compelled to use every word in the “Who, What, Where, When, Why

                        and How” series. Use only those categories that allow you to best present the

information. You might want to use “Note” as a category.

 

# # #

 

(Sample Community Calendar Release)

 

 

 

Community Calendar Release

 

 

For Immediate Release                                        Contact:

(Date)                                                                          (Your name)

(Your email)

(Your phone)

(Name of your organization)

 

 

The ABC Organization is hosting Disability Awareness Day (from X a.m. to X p.m., Monday, March ___, at the Anytown City Hall). The event will include (describe activities). For more information, contact (Joe Smith at 123-4567).

 

# # #

 

 

(Sample Email to Media Contacts – Editorial Placement)

 

 

 

Subject: Disability Awareness Month activities in (Anytown)

 

Dear (Mr. Doe):

 

Thank you for talking with me about Disability Awareness Month and some of the activities the (Anytown Support Group for People with Disabilities) is planning.

 

As we discussed over the phone, several opportunities exist during Disability Awareness Month for coverage of community awareness events, educational topics and disability-related issues. The disability community is one of the fastest-growing populations in the United States, and it’s important that people in our community are educated about this topic.

 

The (Anytown Support Group for People with Disabilities) appreciates your willingness to help in this effort. I look forward to working with you on (producing this show/developing this story). If you have any questions, need further assistance or would like to schedule a special interview with (______), please email me at (jsmith@jsmith.com) or call me at (123-4567).

 

Sincerely,

(Your Name)

(Title)

 

(Sample Thank You Email – Editorial Placement)

 

 

Subject: (Name of organization) appreciates your support of Disability Awareness Month

 

Dear (Mr. Doe):

 

Thank you for increasing our community’s awareness of Disability Awareness Month by (publishing the special story, “_____”; interviewing _____ on “show”; etc.).

 

Your story reminded our community that people with disabilities are people first and are contributing members of society. It is important to eliminate the physical and attitudinal barriers for people with disabilities. Through informative stories like yours, our community will better understand this need.

 

The (Anytown Support Group for People with Disabilities) appreciates your support, and we would be happy to serve as a source of information for any future articles that relate to people with disabilities.

 

Sincerely,

(Your Name)

(Title)

 

(Sample Thank You Email – Editorial Placement –

With Suggestions for Appropriate Language)

 

 

 

Subject: Disability Awareness Month article/broadcast

 

Dear (Mr. Doe):

 

Thank you for your recent article/broadcast about our organization/event. Although we always appreciate coverage about people with disabilities and the issues that concern them, it is also important to realize that the way a reporter tells a story can make a significant difference in how people with disabilities are perceived in the community.

 

Reporting on the disability community is just like reporting on any other minority group; there are “correct” words and phrases to use. The Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities and other disability organizations emphasize “people first” language that focuses on the person first, with the disability as secondary. For example, woman who is deaf is preferred over deaf woman. In addition, people with disabilities is preferred over the handicapped or the disabled.

 

I have attached “Guidelines for Reporting and Writing about People with Disabilities.” The guidelines explain preferred terminology when reporting about people with disabilities and reflect the input of more than 100 national disability organizations.

 

If you ever have a question these guidelines don’t address, please feel free to contact me. Again, we appreciate your coverage of our organization and people with disabilities in general.

 

Sincerely,

(Your Name)

(Title)

 


Guidelines for Reporting and Writing About People with Disabilities

 

When writing, it’s important to be concise, particularly in journalism. However, sometimes the effort to limit wordiness leads to inappropriate references to people with disabilities. The following guidelines explain preferred terminology and reflect input from more than 100 national disability organizations. These guidelines have been reviewed and endorsed by media and disability experts throughout the country. Although opinions may differ on some terms, the guidelines represent the current consensus among disability organizations. Portions of the guidelines have been adopted into the “Associated Press Stylebook,” a basic reference for professional journalists.

 

DO NOT FOCUS ON DISABILITY unless it is crucial to a story. Avoid tear-jerking human interest stories about incurable diseases, congenital impairments or severe injury. Focus instead on issues that affect the quality of life for those individuals, such as accessible transportation, housing, affordable health care, employment opportunities and discrimination.

 

PUT PEOPLE FIRST, not their disability. Say “woman with arthritis,” “children who are deaf” or “people with disabilities.” This puts the focus on the individual, not the particular functional limitation. Despite editorial pressures to be succinct, it is never acceptable to use “crippled,” “deformed,” “suffers from,” “victim of,” “the retarded,” “the deaf and dumb,” etc.

 

DO NOT SENSATIONALIZE A DISABILITY by writing “afflicted with,” “crippled with,” “suffers from,” “victim of” and so on. Instead, write “person who has multiple sclerosis” or “man who had polio.”

 

DO NOT USE GENERIC LABELS for disability groups, such as “the retarded” or “the deaf.” Emphasize people, not labels. Say “people with mental retardation” or “people who are deaf.”

 

EMPHASIZE ABILITIES, not limitations. For example:

  • Correct: “uses a wheelchair/braces” or “walks with crutches”
  • Incorrect: “confined to a wheelchair,” “wheelchair-bound” or “crippled”

 

Similarly, do not use emotional descriptors such as “unfortunate,” “pitiful” and similar phrases.

 

Disability groups also strongly object to using euphemisms to describe disabilities. Terms such as “handi-capable,” “mentally different,” “physically inconvenienced” and “physically challenged” are considered condescending. They reinforce the idea that disabilities cannot be dealt with directly and candidly.

 

SHOW PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES AS ACTIVE participants in society. Portraying persons with disabilities interacting with people without disabilities in social and work environments helps break down barriers and open lines of communications.

 

 

DO NOT PORTRAY SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES AS SUPERHUMAN. Many people with disabilities do not want to be “hero-ized.” Like many people without disabilities, they wish to be fully included in our communities and do not want to be judged based on unreasonable expectations.

 

DO NOT IMPLY DISEASE when discussing disabilities that result from a prior disease episode. People who had polio and experienced after-effects have a post-polio disability. They are not currently experiencing the disease. Do not imply disease with people whose disability has resulted from anatomical or physiological damage (e.g., person with spina bifida or cerebral palsy). Reference to the disease associated with a disability is acceptable only with chronic diseases, such as arthritis, Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis. People with disabilities should never be referred to as “patients” or “cases” unless their relationship with their doctor is under discussion.

 

LISTED BELOW ARE PREFERRED WORDS THAT REFLECT A POSITIVE ATTITUDE IN PORTRAYING DISABILITIES:

 

  • Brain injury. Describes a condition where there is long-term or temporary disruption in brain function resulting from injury to the brain. Difficulties with cognitive, physical, emotional or social functioning may occur. Use “person with a brain injury,” “woman who has sustained brain injury” or “boy with an acquired brain injury.”

 

  • Cleft lip. Describes a specific congenital disability involving lip and gum. The term “hare lip” is anatomically incorrect and stigmatizing. Use “person who has a cleft lip” or “a cleft palate.”

 

  • Deaf. Deafness refers to a profound degree of hearing loss that prevents understanding speech though the ear. “Hearing impaired” and “hearing loss” are generic terms used by some individuals to indicate any degree of hearing loss – from mild to profound. These terms include people who are hard of hearing and deaf. However, some individuals completely disfavor the term “hearing impaired.” Others prefer to use “deaf”, “hard of hearing” or hearing loss.” “Hard of hearing” and “hearing loss” refers to a mild to moderate hearing loss that may or may not be corrected with amplification. Use “woman who is deaf,” “boy who is hard of hearing,” “individuals with hearing losses” and “people who are deaf or hard of hearing.”

 

  • Disability. General term used for a functional limitation that interferes with a person’s ability to, for example, walk, lift, hear or learn. It may refer to a physical, sensory or mental condition. Use as a descriptive noun or adjective, such as “person living with AIDS,” “woman who is blind” or “man with a disability.” “Impairment” refers to loss or abnormality of an organ or body mechanism, which may result in a disability.

 

  • Disfigurement. Refers to physical changes caused by burn, trauma, disease or congenital problems.

 

  • Down syndrome. Describes a chromosome disorder that usually causes a delay in physical, intellectual and language development. Usually results in mental retardation. “Mongol” or “mongoloid” is unacceptable.

 

  • Handicap. Not a synonym for disability. Describes a condition or barrier imposed by society, the environment or by one’s self. Many individuals prefer “inaccessible” or “not accessible” to describe social and environmental barriers. “Handicap” can be used when citing laws and situations, but should not be used to describe a disability. Do not refer to people with disabilities as “the handicapped” or “handicapped people.” Say “the building is not accessible for a wheelchair-user” or “The stairs are a handicap for her.”

 

  • HIV/AIDS. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is an infectious disease resulting in the loss of the body’s immune system to ward off infections. The disease is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). A positive test for HIV can occur without symptoms of the illnesses, which usually develop up to 10 years later, including tuberculosis, recurring pneumonia, cancer, recurrent vaginal yeast infections, intestinal ailments, chronic weakness and fever and profound weight loss. Preferred: “people living with HIV,” “people with AIDS” or “living with AIDS.”

 

  • Mental disability. The Federal Rehabilitation Act (Section 504) lists four categories under mental disability: “psychiatric disability,” “*retardation,” “learning disability” or “cognitive impairment” is acceptable. *Intellectual disability is preferred by most groups

 

  • Nondisabled. Appropriate term for people without disabilities. “Normal,” “able-bodied,” “healthy” or “whole” are inappropriate.

 

  • Seizure. Describes an involuntary muscular contraction, a brief impairment or loss of consciousness, etc., resulting from a neurological condition such as epilepsy or from an acquired brain injury. Rather than “epileptic,” say “girl with epilepsy” or “boy with a seizure disorder.” The term “convulsion” should be used only for seizures involving contraction of the entire body.

 

  • Spastic. Describes a muscle with sudden abnormal and involuntary spasm. Not appropriate for describing someone with cerebral palsy or a neurological disorder. Muscles, not people, are spastic.

 

  • Stroke. Caused by interruption of blood to brain. Hemiplegia (paralysis on one side) may result. “Stroke survivor” is preferred over “stroke victim.”

 

The Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities would like to acknowledge the Research and Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas for the usage rights of the “Guidelines.”

 

College Faculty: Are You Being Rigorous or Just Intolerant?

I always took pride in being “a hard teacher.” I was rigorous but fair; my students

…didn’t need to be geniuses to succeed, they just needed to be “good students.” A good student attends class, sits attentively, participates in discussions, and meet deadlines. But after more than a decade of teaching, I realized that my idea of the good student was standing in the way of good teaching.

My awakening began one day in my required composition course, when three students sat in class wearing ear buds. Trying to stifle my annoyance, I grumbled to myself: “How could they think this was appropriate classroom behavior?” A week later, another student got up and walked out of class in the middle of a writing exercise. One of her peers later told me she had deemed the work “unproductive.” Hearing that I felt the familiar heat of anger: “Why come to college if you don’t want to learn?”

  • I’ve learned to push past those initial flashes of frustration, thanks to fresh data on the mental health of college students and to recent research on teaching. One concept in particular that has changed my interactions with students is the “ladder of inference,” presented in Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook: Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization. The ladder of inference reveals the steps we take to create our beliefs about the world. The first five rungs of the ladder are:
  • (1) observing a person’s behavior; (2) selecting data from what we observe; (3) interpreting that data through the lens of previous experience; (4) making assumptions; and (5) drawing conclusions about that person.

We tend to run up that ladder so fast that we unconsciously draw conclusions based on scant data. To make matters worse, once we’ve drawn our conclusions, we only entertain data that confirm them. If a student is late, we might assume he doesn’t respect our time, and every time he is late, our judgment is confirmed. But if we gather more data, we might discover that the latecomer has OCD and struggles to get out of the house. Of course, the student could just be inconsiderate or a slacker, but we don’t know unless we seek out more information.

I decided to take the information-seeking route. “So, tell me about the ear buds,” I asked one day, and the story of this 18-year-old’s struggles emerged: He had been in multiple car accidents; he is on pain medication but has trouble sleeping and staying focused; the background noise of the music helps him to concentrate. People with ADHD confirm this: They need something in the background to crystallize their attention on the foreground.

As for the student who walked out midclass, I invited her to my office where I learned that she had left because of a panic attack. After a short conversation, I was satisfied that she had the necessary mental-health support, but when I asked about her other courses, she told me she was at risk of failing due to excessive absences. “Easy solution,” I said. “Communicate with these professors.”

But that was not an easy solution. The last time she had divulged to an instructor that she suffered from anxiety, the instructor’s response was, “Yes, we all have anxiety.” In the student’s words, this teacher “shut me down.”

According to data from the 2013 National College Health Assessment, nearly half of 123,078 respondents from 53 colleges and universities across the country felt overwhelming anxiety over the previous year and a third had problems functioning because of depression.

‘Thou shalt not’ directives do not work, and when we fill our classrooms with them, we are not treating students as adults. Still, we hold up the syllabus on the first day of class

like a crucifix to ward off the ‘students from hell.’

While some students arrive with diagnoses and legal accommodations, many begin experiencing mental-health problems during college; the average age of onset of depression and anxiety is 18 to 24. Whether these conditions are permanent or temporary, they are usually accompanied by learning challenges, such as impaired memory and decreased ability to focus and make connections, inhibited curiosity, diminished creativity, and limited flexibility.

To be clear, I have known students with psychiatric conditions who perform the role of the good student, but for others, conforming to that script can be impossible at times.

Despite our students’ struggles, many of us to continue to teach the way we were taught. We continue to lecture and produce syllabi that have the threatening tone of the Ten Commandments: Thou shalt not eat in class, thou shalt not be late, thou shalt not use cellphones. These rigid documents reflect good intentions. We want our students to learn how to behave professionally so that they succeed in the “real world.”

But there are a few problems with that approach: It doesn’t work. Banning cellphones, for example, doesn’t stop students from using them. And in the real world, successful people sit in meetings texting and eating food, or are routinely late. When we fill our classrooms with “don’t” directives, we are not treating students as adults.

Still, we hold up the syllabus on the first day of class like a crucifix to ward off the “students from hell.” In his classic The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life, Parker Palmer draws the veil from the “student from hell” to reveal a student “full of fear.” According to Palmer, teachers are also driven by fear: “We collaborate with the structures of separation because they promise to protect us against one of the deepest fears at the heart of being human — the fear of having a live encounter with alien ‘otherness,’ whether the other is a student, a colleague, a subject, or a self-dissenting voice within.”

That resonates with me. As a writing instructor I rarely lecture, but I do have a tendency to choreograph every step of class, leaving little space for “live encounters.” If, as Palmer suggests, we are protecting ourselves, it makes sense that our syllabi are stringent. It also makes sense that we are more likely to rely on stereotypes of students rather than seek more data about them — because when we gather more information, what we find can be unsettling. They are not whom we envisioned. Rather thanknowledge-thirsty, carefree adolescents, our students are complex people with complicated lives.

It is tempting to say, “We should leave mental health to the experts.” I have said that myself. But now I recognize that asking students to leave their mental-health issues at the door is not only unreasonable, it’s unjust. It’s akin to asking students to leave their race or gender at the door. Of course, we should direct students to the experts when they are in crisis, but there’s much we can do without positioning ourselves as therapists or saviors.

The work of promoting mental health shouldn’t always be outsourced to the counseling center; it must be part of the fabric of our institutions, including our classrooms. Too often when faculty discuss students with mental-health conditions, the conversation ends in the same place: Either we establish rigorous standards or we coddle students. But that is a false binary.

 

The student who left in the middle of my class told me she felt comfortable talking about her personal struggles with me because in my class we had read an article about mental health. She is smart and hardworking, but she was at risk of failing due to excessive absences. During our 15-minute conference, I gave her my computer to email her other professors and spell out the problem. She needed a nudge to trust that this was her best shot at succeeding at college.

  • Admittedly this is harder to do in a large-sized class. But even in such classes, we can acknowledge mental health by being open to “live encounters,” by ditching rules that don’t enhance learning, by responding to students with flexibility and caring, and by being informed about how mental illness affects learning and behavior.

    Outside of the classroom, even something as simple as organizing a panel where faculty and staff members discuss how they manage their psychiatric conditions can be helpful. Such an event had a profound effect on one of my students who had been diagnosed with depression in high school. Hearing the stories of these successful professors and staffers in her first semester, she said, made her think, “I can do this. I’m going to make it.”

    Reconsidering my notion of “the good student” has improved my pedagogy and my well-being. I spend more time getting to know my students and less time being frustrated. My courses are rigorous, and I have created a space for young adults with complicated lives. In this space, a diversity of perspectives and experiences allows us to learn together and from one another.

    Author, Catherine Savini is an associate professor of English.

App Culture: Set on Mindfulness of Mental Health

Never before have we seen such a surge in apps focused specifically on mental health, mindfulness, and stress reduction.
The popular meditation app Headspace and our Apples App of the Year, Calm, both had major updates this year that expanded their breadth considerably, taking on topics such as mindfulness for children and better sleep. The creators of the new app Lake: Artists’ Coloring Books tackle destressing a bit more actively. It offers an ever-changing selection of drawings, created by burgeoning illustrators and artists, that you can color in—which is perhaps the most accessible meditation of all.
Several apps leverage the latest research on cognitive behavioral therapy to help address larger issues. Although the apps are not a substitute for professional treatment, they do put a host of resources at your fingertips. Pacifica provides a self-help toolkit and access to a support group whenever you need it, while Joyable lets you work with a trained coach via text, email, or phone.

 

College Counseling Center: The preeminent nationwide campus crisis

The Rise of Mental Health

The amount of young adults seeking higher education has been growing, and with it the amount of young adults who are ill prepared for higher education (Mowbray et al.,2006). Along with all this growth, colleges and Universities are finding higher and higher rates of mental illness on campus (Mowbray et al.,2006). A variety of studies has shown the rate of mental illness for college students to be somewhere around 12-18% compared to 10 years ago when it was closer to 5% (Mowbray et al.,2006).

It should be noted that while this rate is high it does not even touch the total amount of increase College Counseling Centers are seeing, in that this percentage only reflects the amount of students with a diagnosable mental health issue (Mowbray et al.,2006). In line with this, 68% of College Counseling Centers in a national survey reported that they are seeing a sharp increase in the need for counseling based services (Kitzrow, 2009); Columbia University reported a 40% increase, MIT a 50% increase, and University of Cincinnati reported a 55% increase during a survey of counseling center directors (Kitzrow, 2009).

In addition, more students are seeking psychological services, and the type of needs students report are diverse and growing more complex in nature (Kitzrow, 2009). For example in 1994 only 9% of clients seeking mental health services on college campuses reported psychiatric medication usage where as this rate is now closer to the 20% range (Kitzrow, 2009). But students that have medication issues or whose needs are more complex aren’t all College Counseling Centers must deal with, they also must cope with the fact that around 28% of freshman polled in a natural survey report feeling overwhelmed; with subsets of the students polled developing clinical levels of distress that continued through college (HERI, 2000). This statistic demonstrates that in some respects the growing need of students seeking to utilize college counseling centers are represented by two tiers; tier 1: students needing assistance in “lower-level” needs of anxiety, distress, family of origin issues, and tier 2: students with clinical disorders or high suicide idealization needing intense and often prolonged treatment.

Mental Health: Why Care?

An important question needs to be asked about the mental health services that are offered on college campuses: why should colleges or universities invest? Providing mental health services costs MIT over $838,000 per year, the cost of mental health is not cheap (Healy, 2002).

While the services are not cheap, the benefits that they bring to colleges are not small either. Brackney and Karabenick (1995) found that academic performance finds a significant correlation to high levels of psychological distress. This means that in providing mental health services to students, the likelihood that those students will do better overall at school are significantly strengthened, which brings about a higher chance of that student completing their program. It has been estimated that 4.29 million people in the United States are in a state in which they have been unable to graduate from college due to psychiatric disorders, so the amount of students and therefore the amount of money they could bring to institutions is by no means small (Kitzrow, 2009).

In addition, a six year longitudinal study found that emotional adjustment is one of the most important factors in retention of students, so the amount of impact mental health services provides to colleges is profound (Gerdes & Mallinckrodt, 1994). That impact is operationalized in a study of students that used University of Idaho’s Student Counseling Center, which found that not only did 77% students report that counseling allowed them to stay in school, 90% reported that counseling helped them achieve their overall goals (University of Idaho, 2000). While counseling centers have a great amount of impact on the campuses they service, the coming crisis in terms of higher demand will be something unlike counseling centers were ever designed for or could ever prepare for, as we will see in a review of their history.

Counseling Center History

Counseling has always existed in some way, shape or form within higher education, but was handled by the office of dean of women or the dean of men (Hodges, 2001). Then during the 1930’s and 1940’s, an argument arose in higher education that faculty should be providing counseling, especially the faculty that expressed interesting in the helping profession (Hodges, 2001). Thus some educators fought for faculty to take over the “normal” academic concerns, while other trained professionals handled more of the concerns deemed psychological (Hodges, 2001).

However, there was much confusion over the credentials, duties, and specialization needed in order to be offering psychological services (Hodges, 2001). Then, with the end of World War II, veterans began coming to college in droves, thanks to the financial assistant the Veterans Administration was offering (Hodges, 2001). This movement sparked a change in mindset for higher education because Federal funds were provided to make sure veterans were offered vocational preparations. This eventually set in motion the expanding role of counselors and created Counseling Centers on college campuses (Hodges, 2001).

Then as the civil rights movement started, social barriers to higher education were challenged and older students began to enroll, creating even more diversity on campuses (Aubrey, 1977). This drastic influx of students, combined with additional pressures for college personnel, provided counseling the right to move out of the faculty housing into it’s own profession (Hodges, 2001). This move into it’s own profession also created responsibilities for the counseling profession, in the need to develop standard of practice, ethics, and specialized training (Hodges, 2001).

In all of this, the American Psychological Association or APA grew in prestige, and created it’s own accreditation guidelines, training programs, and credentialing, moving what was a “generalist” movement into a highly specialized field (Hodges, 2001). With this specialization comes competition, between a variety of degrees, something that very much continues to this day (Hodges, 2001).

In a sense, College Counseling Centers have come out of a history that has required a defense, in that it is extremely special in nature and that sense of specialty must be preserved. If not, it could easily fall back into the sense of generalized mindset it worked so hard to come out of. As stated before the argument of faculty handling advising, counseling and other services has been around since the 1940’s and is still very much alive to this day (Mowbray et al.,2006). Even still there are those with the attitude that a university’s role was to teach, not to treat the students it served on campus (Mowbray et al.,2006). So, those who provide counseling on college campuses face a battle of being able to offer counseling to a growing diversity of students while maintaining that they provide a service that can’t just be handled by any faculty member (Mowbray et al.,2006).

The Law

Colleges obtained a majority of funding via the Federal Government in the form of loans that students take out in order to attend intuitions (McPherson, 2010). Due to this the law, in the sense that the government and therefore funding is directly tied to current law, law is critical in the discussion of College Counseling Centers.

First line in this consideration is the possibility that College Counseling Centers can be sued by the students and community they serve. Lawsuits do happen, not just to larger schools but also to smaller ones (Affsprung, 2010). That said: the larger the campus, the greater likelihood that the College Counseling Center can be sued (Affsprung, 2010). In fact, in an analysis of survey results from 1994-2008 of counseling directors found that once enrollment at a University or College reaches around 7,500 they become 3 ½ times more likely to be the target of a lawsuit or some sort of legal challenge (Affsprung, 2010).

It is important to note that during this same analysis of legal action taken against college counseling centers a variety of reasons for lawsuits were found (Affsprung, 2010). These reasons ranged from malpractice in the form of inappropriate medication being prescribed by the psychiatrist to the most common related to student suicide (Affsprung, 2010). Therefore Counseling Centers find themselves most at risk in relation to suicide idealization of students (Affsprung, 2010).

This brings up the important case of Elizabeth Shin versus MIT, in which the student committed suicide and her parents sued for $27 million. On top of the high monetary amount, legal opinion is Shin’s parents could have won but elected for a settlement of ‘undisclosed amount’ (Hodges, 2001). Shin’s parents were able to sue MIT for their daughter’s suicide because it was ruled that the University had a ‘special relationship’ with Elizabeth and because of this had a higher responsibility to her than just a normal bystander (Massie, 2008). This case, among others, should be noted in higher education in that prior to cases of this nature, Universities had no “duty to rescue.” However, a revision of Torts section 314A revised the student and University or College relationship to be included under “special relations” (Massie, 2008).

This is important within the discussion of the rising mental health issues on college campuses, in that these changes in law will impact the likelihood of Universities winning future cases to the ever growing requirement that colleges take “reasonable steps” to prevent students from harm (Massie, 2008).

In light of this lawsuit, MIT increased its mental health significantly, in order to have an outreach campaign to students seeking counseling as well as to build policy that would provide better counseling systems to students (Kitzrow, 2009). This is critical in that around 41% of counseling directors report that they do have formal follow-up procedure to assist students, which could easily give way to “high-risk” students being lost in the college counseling system (Kitzrow, 2009). However, when it comes to the legal issues, additional outreach is only part of the way to defend against lawsuits.

The Way Forward

As stated before, “reasonable steps” are a key point when considering the outcomes to lawsuits in College Counseling Centers. While outreach is a key component of “reasonable steps,” MIT, in the steps taken after Shin’s suicide, found that the importance of additional staff could not be left out (Hodges, 2001). These findings have been generalized, in the increasing literature looking at students who have entered or are currently in college, their demands as well as their parent’s demands of timely mental health service (Brunner et al., 2014). In fact, in review of the coming generation, Howe and Strauss (2007) provide the advice that counseling centers must “staff up” if they will keep even close to the pace of demands for services.

This insight is directly opposite of where most counseling centers stand today, in that most counseling center director’s report that they have waiting lists for counseling services (Brunner et al., 2014). In fact, estimates are even as high as to state that one third of college centers are unable to meet the demands for counseling service (Brunner et al., 2014).

The importance of additional staff is critical, but where is this staff to come from? Central Michigan University decided to address this issue with the design and implementation of Counselor-in-Residence program (Orchowski et al., 2011). The Director of Residence Life and the director of the counseling center came together to promote increased collaboration between the two departments (Orchowski et al., 2011). Counselors-in-Residence or “CR’s” worked in conjunction with the Residence Advisors, or “RA’s”, in that RA’s would refer students to the CR’s at provided student-friendly counseling times of 5 pm to 10 pm, which is after the normal counseling center business hours (Orchowski et al., 2011). The program at Central Michigan University was staffed with licensed Master-level Professionals Counselors and Social Workers (Orchowski et al., 2011). The University reported that such extension of the college counseling center provided a cost-effective solution to the increased demands for college counseling on their campus (Orchowski et al., 2011).

While a wonderful example of what departments can do when they work together, programs of said nature also carry certain risks with them. Blacklock (2003) caution against multiple locations for students to seek counseling, in that this may force students to drift from office to office until they locate the correct entry point. In addition, it is important to consider how the CRs must be balanced between dorms, in that certain dorms could command more robust attention than others.

That being said, the Counselor-In-Resident program was wonderful in that it brought an additional option to the professionals that currently serve students on college campuses: that of master’s level counselors (Orchowski et al., 2011). A survey of counseling center directors report that around 94% of counseling center staff either have their doctorate in counseling or clinical psychology (Kitzrow, 2009). While the amount of masters-level clinicians working within counseling centers is small, the importance of said clinicians is growing (Kitzrow, 2009). In talking in-depth with counseling directors, one study, which sought to focus on the challenges college counseling centers face, reported that graduate interns and peer counselors are extremely important in allowing their centers to serve additional students (Kitzrow, 2009).

So why aren’t masters-level clinicians being better utilized to serve students on college campuses? The answer is rather complex and once again comes with an important historical context of how masters-level practitioners are viewed. As stated before, the competition for professional opportunities within college counseling centers is competitive and the APA holds a lot of support (Jackson & Scheel, 2013). The APA’s attitude for more than 60 years has been the predominant stance that master’s-level counselors should practice under supervision of doctoral level psychologists (Jackson & Scheel, 2013).

In fact, in 1947 the APA even recommended the discontinuation of masters degrees for “lower level” psychology work, only shifting their stance in 1955 as master’s level curriculum was promoted to support the need for psychological services following World War II (Jackson & Scheel, 2013). While the APA’s history has been one that has sought to fight the independent licensing of masters-level counselors, it finds itself arguing a moot point on this issue, as all 50 states currently allow for master-level counselor to practice via state license (Jackson & Scheel, 2013). Yet the stance of higher education seems stuck within APA’s viewpoint of the 1940’s and 50’s. Masters-level counselors are allowed to practice in all 50 states, are used in social services programs, and allowed to be placed on medical insurance boards (Jackson & Scheel, 2013). It seems the state, social services, and even the general medical community has accepted the use of master’s level counselors, so why not higher education? Even the APA has changed it’s stance in some regards, as a 2006-2010 study by a board created within the organization came to the stance of not opposing independent practice by master’s-level counselors or promotion of supervisors of said counselors by doctoral-level psychologists (Jackson & Scheel, 2013).

In addition to the APA’s changes in regards to masters-level counselors, another important factor in their inclusion is the requirements promoted by the International Association of Counseling Services or IACS, which is important for counseling centers at a university or four year level in order to maintain their accreditation (Danger et al.). IACS standard indicates that professionals with a master’s degree from counseling disciplines can provide psychological services to students and even allow for trainees, provided that they are supervised by qualified staff (Danger et al.).

With all of these changes, it seems higher education has been left behind in its mindset of hiring mainly doctoral-level counselors, as seen by the statistic of 94% of centers having doctoral-based staff (Kitzrow, 2009). Perhaps the perspective is that because doctoral-level staff are allowed to prescribe medication, they are in a sense a better deal for the University than masters-level clinicians who currently don’t have that ability (Kitzrow, 2009). However, as stated before, the coming crisis in mental health isn’t just about the increased diversity in students’ mental health needs, but also about the increased demand (Mowbray et al.,2006). Simply having Universities or Colleges focus on the greatest diversity of services clinicians are able to provide will not stop lawsuits that focus on the American with Disabilities act or the ever increasing need to provide “reasonable steps” in preventing student suicide (Massie, 2008).

So the future of mental health must accommodate two-levels of service: in-depth need, as such is the case with medication, and quality need, as will be the case with the increase in anxiety and depression based disorders (HERI, 2000).

While other members on college campuses can provide some support, the important need of confidentiality and division of mental health services from academic based services must be noted (Mowbray et al., 2006). Students must feel that they are able to present their mental health needs without fear of these needs creating some sort of division on campus (Mowbray et al., 2006). An important part of meeting this need of confidentiality must come from those who are licensed to enforce it, both from a client-centered perspective and from the legal perspective (Mowbray et al., 2006).

The increased usage of masters-level clinicians is a natural solution to this issue of confidentiality and meeting of needs, as they are currently utilized within a variety of other sectors within society. In following with the model of Central Michigan University, these masters-level clinicians could be used in order to fill the extensive need of students, assigning “lower risk” students to them. This would follow the model that most mental health providers use in their coordination, in that students would receive an intake and off of said intake they would be set up with doctoral-level or masters-level clinicians (Schulberg et al., 2002). Masters-level clinicians would receive the students that do not currently need medication support or adjustment, and whose needs are more in line with general anxiety or depression based disorders. Once again, this follows the model of most mental health services and has been shown to be effective in managing cost and providing quality services (Schulberg et al., 2002).

As the masters-level clinicians or practicum students are working with termed “lower-risk” students, doctoral-level clinicians would be assigned “higher-risk” students. These students would be needing more extensive mental health issues or could be needing assistance with management of medication. The use of said system, along with the coordination of support groups and the use of peer counselors, could provide the quality and quantity needed to meet mental health services on campus. This model has been found to work in social services, as well as hospital and private services, showing to be both cost-effective and able to handle the diverse needs associated with providing mental health to a community (Schulberg et al., 2002).

Conclusion

The upcoming crisis on college campuses in terms of mental health has been growing for years and currently does not show signs of slowing down (Brunner et al., 2014). Instead of reverting to the faculty centered model of the 1940’s or simply continuing as planned could easily result in disaster or even worse: more lawsuits. Other solutions must be explored. Yet the cost must be handled in such a way that the already rising cost of tuition does not take another huge climb, as mental health services are expensive to any institution (Kitzrow, 2009).

The recommendation of more inclusion of masters-level clinicians must be explored, as current society has already adjusted to allow for their inclusion (Schulberg et al., 2002). There is already extensive research on how higher education interacts with general society, and how the two are correlated (Komives & Woodard, 2003). This correlation must not be dismissed when it comes to mental health, as higher education has fallen behind in this regard, and must consider a diverse range of opportunities that above all else does not focus on the spaded history of the past. Instead, the focus needs to be on the coming college student’s mental health needs and how to best meet those needs.

References

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