6 - Tuesday, March 29, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
From Page 1
Seeking Behavior Among College
Students," Eisenberg and Hunt
report that many who believe in
the trend - including research-
ers, clinicians and policymak-
ers - frequently cite two major
national surveys that, on the
surface, provide convincing evi-
The first is a 2008 survey by
the International Association
of Counseling Services, which
was conducted the study of 284
directors of college psychologi-
cal counseling offices in various
states. According to the study,
95 percent of directors said they
have seen a significant increase
in the number of serious psycho-
logical problems on their cam-
The second study, conducted
by the National College Health
Association, made an overall
assessment of mental health on
college campuses. Also from
2008, this study reports that the
number of students surveyed
who said they had been diag-
nosed with depression at some
point in their lives increased
from 10 percent in 2000 to15 per-
cent in 2008.
Eisenberg said the problem
with these statistics is that they
don't take into account the grad-
ual decline in the stigma against
"In general, I don't necessarily
buy into the idea that the mental
health problems are dramati-
cally different than they used to
be," Eisenberg said. "I think that
the willingness of students to
express them and to seek help - I
think that clearly has changed."
But Todd Sevig, director of
Counseling and Psychological
Services at the University, said
he believes there is an increas-
ing trend in mental illness among
"I feel in my heart of hearts
as a clinician, anecdotally, that
there is an increase," Sevig said.
In an effort to increase aware-
ness of depression in the commu-
nity, the University's Depression
Center is hosting the Depression
on College Campuses Confer-
ence this week, aimed to deter-
mine new ways to combat the
perceived increase of depression
on campuses, according to the
Depression Center's website.
CAPS Associate Director Tim
Davis said he finds it hard to
believe that mental health prob-
lems aren't on the rise among
college students, because he
feels the life of a student is more
stressful than it was in the past.
Davis attributed this to demands
not only from classes but also
extracurricular activities and
stress from summer internships.
Stanley Watson, co-director of
the University's Molecular and
Behavioral Neuroscience Insti-
tute, echoed Davis's observation.
"I think the pressure that I
felt going to college and kind of
getting organized - it's a lot of
stress, but I don't think anybody
in my class came away nearly as
disrupted as the kids in my son's
class or my daughter's," Watson
CAPS Associate Director Vic-
toria Hays, said she thinks the
economy is another major stress
on students today. She compared
the stress to the months after the
Sept. 11 attacks when she said
there was a notable increase in
students using CAPS because of
"changes in the sense of safety in
The 1992 National Comorbid-
ity Survey found 25 percent of
people diagnosed with mental
disorders had received treatment
the previous year, which was
an increase from the 19 percent
reported seven years earlier. The
same survey in 2002 found that
the number of people who sought
treatment had jumped to 41 per-
Sevig said it Was rare for older
people to seek mental health ser-
vices because "it just wasn't part
of that generation's lifestyle."
Now, research shows that stigma
of mental health is decreasing
among college students, encour-
aging more of them to seek help,
"This is the first generation ...
of college students that received
services as children and adoles-
cents in large numbers," Sevig
said. "It's the first generation
of students where their parents
have received services."
The CAPS 2009-2010 annual
report revealed that during the
2008-2009 and 2009-2010 aca-
demic years, 3,127 and 3,362
students, respectively, used
CAPS clinical services. The
addition of more staff members
and increased funding is partly
responsible for the rise, Sevig
LSA senior Caitlin Pollock said
there seems to be more aware-
ness about mental health issues
compared to when her parents
were in college.
"They'll say they probably had
friends or knew people that were
depressed, but they would never
know what it was," Pollack said.
LSA sophomore Vishesha Patel
said she thinks this generation
of college students is under a lot
of pressure to be successful and
"become something." She said
she thinks it's harder now than it
was for her parents, who only had
a few options for what to do with
"Now we have so many choic-
es, and it's hard to decide (what
career to pursue)," Patel said.
"It's stressful. It's a pretty big
campus, you have to compete a
lot to be the best."
One study published in 2009 in
Clinical Psychology Review tried
to pinpoint the root cause of the
trend of mental health problems
among college students while
accounting for reduced stigma.
To compare the levels of
mental illness between genera-
tions, the study looked at scores
from the Minnesota Multiphasic
Personality Inventory - which
measures levels of psychological
ailments like depression para-
noia, schizophrenia, hypomania
and hysteria - from the 1930s to
The controls they used to
account for reduced stigma mea-
sured respondents' tendency
toward "socially desirable and
defensive responding." Even with
these controls, the researchers
found that mental illness did rise
from one generation to the next.
The researchers concluded
that the trend did not correlate
with economic cycles, ruling the
economy out as a possible cause.
They ultimately concluded that
the mostlikelysource ofthetrend
was a cultural shift in priorities
from intrinsic goals - such as
getting involved in community
groups, making close friends and
developing a "meaningful phi-
losophy of life" - to extrinsic
goals characterized by "materi-
alism, individualism, unrealistic
expectations and unstable rela-
tionships." These extrinsic goals,
the researchers argue, contribute
to more cases of mental distress.
While the study took into
account reduced stigma, the
researchers acknowledged that
it didn't deal with the possibility
that psychopathologic symptoms
are becoming socially accept-
able. The study also recognized
that it didn't account for the fact
that more students with ailments
like depression and anxiety now
attend college due to more pre-
Rachel Glick, the associate
chair for clinical and adminis-
trative affairs in the University's
Department of Psychiatry, said
before the advent of Prozac in the
1980s, anti-depressants had more
serious side effects and required
careful dosing, so doctors had
to monitor their patients more
closely. Now, family practitio-
ners and other specialty doctors
feel comfortable prescribing the
drugs because they're simple,
once-a-day medications, she said.
Glick added that an increased
use of anti-depressants and
other drugs means more people
with debilitating mental health
issues, who wouldn't be able to
attend college otherwise, now go
on to pursue higher education if
they're on medications that help
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