Fairfield University to host workshop on results of national study of mental health issues among today's college students


Spurred by an increase in mental health concerns by universities and colleges, a major study is being conducted by the Center for the Study of Collegiate Mental Health (CSCMH) at Penn State University in which approximately 140 institutions of higher education are now participating. Counseling & Psychological Services at Fairfield University will host a workshop on Friday, Oct. 9 from 9:30 a.m. to noon in Alumni House, where Dr. Ben Locke, executive director of the study, will report on the latest and most comprehensive research, findings, and future research plans. Fairfield University was one of 66 colleges and universities nationwide - and the only Connecticut university - to take part in the pilot study that began last fall.

While other studies have concentrated on surveys of Counseling Center Directors, what sets this study apart is the input from actual students, some 28,000 in all, who sought help from their on-campus counseling centers in the fall of 2008. All data were anonymous. Dr. Susan Birge, assistant vice president/director of Counseling & Psychological Services at Fairfield, said, "What makes this study so important is that the information gathered is from the students." She said the results of the study, "which provide good empirical data, will certainly drive how services are delivered."

Among the types of issues that have emerged from the study, says Dr. Birge, are "the prevalence and impact of binge drinking, depression, violent tendencies, anxiety, eating disorders, and suicidal thoughts." She said the results of the study "could very well change the way college counseling centers address these issues."

Clinical staff from counseling centers at some 15 colleges and universities throughout Connecticut as well as local mental health clinicians and treatment providers will be attending the workshop.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 29, 2009

Vol. 42, No. 70