Campus program provides essential layer of support

April 26, 2012

Students across the University of Michigan who face challenges in managing their mental health on campus are benefitting from the outreach services of the Campus Mind Works (CMW) program, a partnership between the Depression Center and the College of Engineering now in its second year.

These days, greater numbers of students arrive on campus with prior experience with therapy and psychiatric medications. Yet it is also clear that for a variety of reasons, many students who need psychiatric care on campus do not receive the services they need, even with low-cost or free mental health care options available.  A recent study by Depression Center researcher Daniel Eisenberg, Ph.D., found that only 22 percent of college students who reported symptoms of serious depression in the past year received minimally adequate treatment.

One of the CMW’s main goals is to extend additional support for these students in of the form of easy-to-access, conveniently located, and “non-threatening” outreach services, so that U-M students with psychiatric disorders can successfully complete their education in a healthy, supportive, and nurturing environment. CMW offers drop-in education and support group sessions as well as a website offering resources for U-M students with depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and other serious mental health conditions.

Each CMW support group session, offered bi-weekly at two campus locations, attracts an average of 10 students, and the majority of group participants report that they are not currently receiving treatment elsewhere. The support groups emphasize the many ways – some big, some small – that students can take greater control of their own mental wellness through managing stress, minimizing substance use, and improving sleep, exercise, and nutrition habits – all areas that, if neglected, have the potential to complicate good intentions of maintaining mental health and following through on treatment, group participants report.

Students who have attended CMW support groups identified a number of barriers that prevent them from getting treatment, including stigma, lack of awareness, and insufficient time and resources. This points to the importance of offering these types of non-traditional services to supplement regular care options for these students, an increasingly diverse group facing increasingly complex obstacles to mental health management on top of the common stressors and complex life changes that most students face in adjusting to college life.

For more information, visit the Campus Mind Works website.