Student Mental Health Problems Rise at C.U.

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Student Mental Health Problems Rise at C.U.

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By Gallagher Hannan
Sun Staff Writer
May 3 2007

The tragedy at Virginia Tech has put the entire college community on edge. Although it is clear that this incident was isolated, it has raised important questions about the prevalence of high stress and depression on college campuses.

In an interview with Cornell's President David Skorton last week on mental health, he addressed the importance of these issues.

"I am very, very concerned about depression, pressure on campus, suicide, homicide, violence; it's an enormous issue," he said.Ample Advice: Pamphlets line the walls of Gannett Health Clinic offering advice to students on a number of topics.Ample Advice: Pamphlets line the walls of Gannett Health Clinic offering advice to students on a number of topics.

According to a recent study completed by Kansas State University, mental health issues like those described by Skorton are becoming increasingly prevalent on college campuses. The study indicated that since 1994, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of students seeking help for depression and suicidal thoughts. Greg Eells, director of Cornell Counseling and Psychological services, said that these trends are apparent Cornell as well.

"We've seen a doubling of people coming in for counseling over the last ten years," he said, "but we've doubled our staff size as well, so we've tried to keep up."

The question then, is whether mental health issues are actually increasing, or if students are just more willing to seek psychological help.

"It's hard to know whether the increase in demand is about increased stress, or is about increased knowledge in campus [about mental health services] and [their] de-stigmatization," said Matt Boone, interim assistant director of CAPS.

"While there have been claims that mental health problems among college students are on the rise, the data is not consistent," said Tim Marchell, director of Mental Health Initiatives and the Council for Mental Health and Welfare, "[But] we do know from surveys that there are many students who experience significant levels of stress for which they don't receive help."

So what can universities like Cornell do to help combat these problems? Aside from increasing the staff size of CAPS, Cornell has been trying to implement other ways in which students can have access to counseling and support if they need it.

"I think Gannett is at the forefront of these issues," said Boone. "[We have] eight staff members devoted to outreach and nine 'Let's Talk' sites where you can walk in without paying a fee. Those staff members conduct those walk-in hours as a way to engage people who wouldn't usually come into counseling," he said.

Gannett has also been working to make faculty members and students more aware of what the warning signs of mental health problems may be.

"We are educating faculty and staff and students how to recognize issues...[and] helping them understand what are the indicators that might suggest that a student is having a problem. We [also] provide online mental health self-assessments on our website," Marchell said.

There are also lots of places that Cornell students can find support on campus outside of CAPS, if they need it. Empathy and Referral Services, a peer-counseling group, is another resource for students if they want to talk but feel that they do not require a therapist.

"Not all issues are therapy issues," said Alice Green, director of the EARS program. "If you have a breakup with a significant other, it's a normal life passage, it may not require therapy but it may require some support and reflection...I really hope that people who come to EARS will see that some issues that don't require therapy can really benefit from just talking with someone."

There's a lot of talk about Cornell being an especially stressful university. While it is clear that workloads can get heavy, there may be other reasons why Cornell students feel so much pressure.

"If you look at national college health assessment surveys, Cornell tracks right a long with other schools. However, I think if you look at people's perceptions, there is a cultural component of Cornell that [says] you're supposed to be stressed here...There are things about Cornell's structure, it's size, being a teaching institution that add to that perception of stress," said Eells.

"There's a long standing tradition of talking about how stressful it is here," said Marchell. "[In some cases] talking about how stressful it is may even add to the stress."

It is because of these problems, many mental health professionals agree, that it is important to relax at places like Cornell.

"[It's important] to just notice that we have a this culture of pressure and be brave enough to say 'I'm going to try to relax and I'm going to try to bring that to whoever I encounter'," said Green, "You can be clear and intelligent and successful and not carry that atmosphere of driven-ness."

Nevertheless, the University is trying to ensure that there are always counseling alternatives if necessary.

"For those who are experiencing stress that is interfering with their ability to function it can be important to seek help from professionals or peers," said Marchell. "And similarly I would say for those of us who may be aware of someone else who's undergoing significant stress its important that we reach out to those individuals...All of us need to play a role in making Cornell an even more caring community."Student Mental Health Problems Rise at C.U.

<b>Comments</b>


The Most Likely Reason for Seung-hui Cho&#39;s Problems

Lies with the age of his father at his conception, between 38 and 39. I would guess that the resilence of today&#39;s college students to stress and depression is diminished in some of the population whose father&#39;s, following the trend during the last 20 years, were older at their conception, over the age of 32. There is a great ignorance in this country of the science of the past 50 years concerning the effects of the male biological clock called the paternal age effect. The increase in today&#39;s children of the incidence of non-familial autism and schizophrenia is a demonstration of that effect. The Male Biological Clock: Advancing Paternal Age = Genetic Disorders.

The most obvious major cause of the increase in depression, lack of resilence to stress, and at the extreme end, autism and schizophrenia, in young people are mutations to the genes that control myelin development.

A note, from a expert in the field to myelin research, Dr. George Bartzokis to me contained this explanation:

"The issue is that the older man will have sperm that has undergone more divisions and therefore had more chances to have mutations.
The COMPLEXITY of the myelination process makes it more vulnerable to mutations. I am not talking of one specific mutation. Many things could MANIFEST in the myelination or myelin breakdown process because it is so vulnerable - something going slightly wrong will impact it while it will not impact bone growth or the heart. A good example is ApoE4 - whatever else it may affect, it manifests in the reduced capacity of myelin repair and earlier onset of AD."

Knowledge of, and acceptance of, the science of the male biological clock must be forthcoming.

At all levels of education, students and teachers must study and integrate the paternal age effect findings and the knowledge of what ages it is advisable to father children learned. There is also the option of cryobanking sperm in ones mid 20s to 30 for fathering babies past the age of 32. If men are older than 32, and do not have a client depositor sperm bank account, there might be the possiblilty of adoption or use of healthy sperm from a donor aged 25-30.

For more information about the paternal age effect please spend a great deal of time reading and absorbing the scientific abstracts that I have collected:

http://ageofthefatherandhealthoffuture.blogspot.com/

http://how-old-is-too-old.blogspot.com/

http://fathersageandsinglegenedisorders.blogspot.com/

--

Original Source: <a href=http://cornellsun.com/node/23362>Cornell Daily Sun - May 3, 2007</a>

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Gallagher Hannan

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2007-07-10

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Sara Hood

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Jonny Lieberman <jdl46@cornell.edu>, <lieberman.jonny@gmail.com>

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Gallagher Hannan, "Student Mental Health Problems Rise at C.U.," in The April 16 Archive, Item #676, http://www.april16archive.org/items/show/676 (accessed July 30, 2014).