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4/13/15

Mental Health at Penn State


Redefining Assistance and Promoting Awareness

Mental Health at Penn State

Mental Health at Penn State

Mental Health at Penn State


Redefining Assistance and Promoting Awareness

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

The Issue

Background

Solution

Reforming Health Services

Educating the Educational

Implementation

References

Mental Health at Penn State

Executive Summary
Students in the United States are under tremendous pressure to succeed, go to
college and become a well-regarded leader of their field. This was not the norm from the
previous generation where college was for the highest achievers and just having a job
was considered to be successful as long as you could support your family. The stresses of
this generation have been like no other. Students are coming to college anxious,
depressed and over stimulated to the point where they become dysfunctional. Mental
illness rates are rising across the United States but the root of the problem lies at the
Universities. The government of the United States needs to recognized the growing issue
occurring at major universities across the country where more and more students are
coming to college depressed and then have no where to go and receive treatment for this
stress induced mental illness.
Awareness of mental illness needs to be increased at college campuses through
the utilization of psychology courses, computer modeling and apps that could also
provide assistance to people who are suffering from a mental illness. The solution is to
start reforming mental health programs to support growing numbers of mental health
mental illness patients and increase awareness of mental illnesses at a college level and
how to help yourself, or someone with a mental illness. Implementation needs to start at
the federal level by providing funds for research into treating mental illnesses. Next is to
eliminate the social stigma by education of students by utilizing technology and staff at
major universities who are educated in psychology. The utilization of these aspects can
then make college a less stressful experience for students across the country and also
promote improved academic performance.
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Mental Health at Penn State

The Issue
The education system is built around competition, determination, and natural
intelligence. Those who have all three traits, succeed. Those who have two can still
succeed but need to compensate for lacking the other. The hard question that is now
being asked of schools is that do we put too much emphasis and subsequent stress on
the youth of America by teaching them to always be better than the person next to you?
This stress can induce dysthymia
and trigger more intense
psychological diseases that impact
the individual negatively (Furr et
al.). Intense pressure at the high
school level has had a negative
influence on mental health at
college with rates of depression,
Figure 1: The Generalized Life of a Child with a Mental Health Disorder

anxiety, eating disorders, alcohol

http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/sites/default/files/imce_uploads/infographicmental-health-stigma-stats-young-people.jpg

abuse, self-injury and sexual

assault skyrocketing (Appendix 1). All of these cognitive disorders have seen a steady
increase in recent years and it could be tied back to the high school level, or possibly the
introduction into the high stress environment that is college academics today. The
potentially lethal mix of stress and prejudice against seeking help for mental disorders is
an underlying issue at colleges across the country. Pennsylvania State University has
made progress to institute a beneficial program to those who need help, but it needs to
be taken one step further.
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Mental Health at Penn State

Figure 2: College and Univerisity Counseling Center Presenting Concers


http://www.apa.org/Images/2014-09-pressure-chart2_tcm7-175017.jpg

Background
Mental Disorders are not a new Western disease ravishing the civilized world but
rather a disease that has persisted for centuries. The diagnosis of mental illnesses has
recently increased and treatment plans have been implemented to help sooth symptoms
or even cure the illness. This increase not only is derived from the elevated levels of
stress put children but also better identification techniques used by psychologists to
recognized illnesses such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder (Furr et al.).
Psychological Counseling is available at every major university but at varying levels of
cost and quality. Penn State University offers a program called Counseling and
Psychological Services (CAPS). This service offers individual counseling, group therapy,
24 hour help phone lines, relaxation sessions, online help sessions and general
assistance to students who are in need (Counseling and Psychological Services). With
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Mental Health at Penn State

such a great system already in place it is hard to imagine a need for expansion in this
area, but actually more funds are being allocated to this program to help fight the rising
rates of mental illnesses on college campuses. How to use this funding is what this brief
aims to outline.
Awareness is the most important aspect of solving any problem. If people are not
aware there is a problem, it will be
impossible to solve. CAPS needs to
use the $300,000 recently allocated
to them by the Pennsylvania State
University to help raise awareness at
the collegiate level and create
programs that educate the general
college population on dealing with
mental illnesses (Center for

Figure 2: Mental Illness Statistics in College Students

https://m1.behance.net/rendition/modules/53171205/disp/49481a8
faad5724d475c67adc5173cd8.jpg

Collegiate Mental Health). The goal is to help students understand how mental illnesses
affect individuals and to perceive them as exactly what they are called, an illness. They
are not a weakness or sign of unintelligence, but rather a chemical imbalance in the
brain that results in incapacities of everyday tasks.

Solution
The issue will not be solved overnight, but rather it is a long process to resocialize humans to understand that a mental illness is just like any other illness. It is
not something that a person can just get over on their own. Clinicians, therapists and
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Mental Health at Penn State

medical doctors are needed to help cure these kinds of diseases that take root in the
brain. These issues are all around the country but seem to derive from college
experience and success. Of the students who have withdraw from college, 64% dropout
for a reason involving a mental health issue and 31% have felt so depressed or anxious
that they have not been able to function because of academic stress (NAMI).

Reforming Health Services


College enrollment is rising quickly in the new world where every person is
perceived to need a degree to succeed. This alone is enough to institute change in the
mental health services at colleges across the country to be ready for more large-scale
treatment. Pennsylvania State University Park campus has about 40,085 students
enrolled. Since approximately 25% of college students have been identified to have had,
or currently have a mental illness, approximately 10,000 students at University Park are
at risk for a mental illness (NAMI). The CAPS facilities can treat 15-20 people at a time
which means it would take over 400 days just to finish everyones consultation. This
inefficient and outdated treatment method inhibits people from getting help, especially
when students at larger institutions experience more depression and loneliness after
entering college (Counseling and Psychological Services; NAMI).
These services require reform because of the
high volume of people needing help. With technology
quickly developing faster than the medical world can
http://www.salusdigital.co.uk/wpcontent/uploads/2014/12/mental-health-appsSFWAD.jpg

follow, doctors, nurses, clinicians and health workers

need to utilize these new tools that have potential to help large amounts of people at a
time without them leaving their home. There are thousands of apps and sites devoted to
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Mental Health at Penn State

physical development or working out but when it comes to medical testing for mental
illness or even physical illnesses, they are few and far between. Apple has finally
launched a new health app that can test for asthma, Parkinsons disease, diabetes, breast
cancer, and cardiovascular disease (Apple). This app could possibly start a new wave of
medical apps to help enable self-treatment and cut down medical staff work. It would
redefine psychological counseling efforts to minimize wait time for instant help and
promote general wellness using metacognition techniques for self therapy as well as
calming techniques for stress related disorders. The utilization of technological
development into mental illness treatment will redefine the services offered at Penn
State University.

Educating the Educational


The college experience introduces a new stress to a students life because of the
individualism, heavy workload, and importance of receiving good grades. This stress can
translate positively in some to promote better work habits; stronger studying and a
strong drive for academic success. But, some students can be negatively affected;
transferring into a stress induced mental illness that disrupts schoolwork and even
leisure time. These stress-induced mental illnesses that ravage the college campuses
across the country mostly derive from loneliness and a feeling of few options. The
stigma behind mental illnesses is to hide it from others, concealing your feelings and
preserving your intellectual strength. This stigma is the main root of the issues that
surround mental illness.
The implementation of a educational program at Penn State University is a must.
With the rates of stress induced depression, anxiety, eating disorders and many other
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major mental health disorders on the rise, there needs to be a program that can educate
and advocate how to help others that could be suffering from a mental illness as well as
how to get help if you are suffering from an illness. The use of a module similar to the
SAFE and AWARE modules that are already in existence at Penn State to educate about
alcohol and drug use and sexual assault would be very beneficial. Knowledge is one of
the most important aspects of removing the social stigma from the college campus. If
people become more aware of the prevalence of mental illnesses and the warning signs,
they can help other students who are struggling with similar issues. This knowledge will
ease the burden of psychological treatment centers by decreasing the number of stress
induced patients and then allowing more time for clinicians to focus on the clinically ill
patients.

Figure 4: The Effects of a Mental Illness on College Aged People


https://whitmanpioneer.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/MentalHealthInfographic-640x344.jpg

Mental Health at Penn State

Implementation
The problem is no longer where to get money, but how to efficiently spend it to
help the students better succeed at Penn State University. The $300,000 allotted to the
CAPS program at Penn State should be used to revamp the program to be more
technologically friendly. There are many organizations here that could help with the
technical aspects of the app including design, programing and compatible software.
Information, Science and Technology students at Penn State could help create this app
since they are well trained in computer programing and app design. Also, they modules
such as SAFE and AWARE could be used as a template to create a new module that all
freshmen coming to Penn State could take. This module would future prominent
psychologists at Penn State speaking about mental illness, students personal anecdotes
and short quizzes to check the students progress. The module could provide
information about CAPS and the varying sources of help that are available to students if
they need it throughout the semester.
It would take collaboration of the CAPS program, experts in technology design
and the administration at Penn State to make this rehabilitation of the mental health
treatment a reality. President Barron would need to enforce this module as a mandatory
program all students must complete before starting classes. Statistics show that this
problem is only getting worse. The most practical attempt to treat this issue is at the
collegiate level because of the high stress environment and the immense network of
resources available in close proximity to the individuals. It is now up to the
administration to implement these revolutionary techniques of treating large-scale
mental illnesses at Pennsylvania State University.
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The health of major universities rests on the students who attend and succeed
there. Without the necessary mechanisms for success, universities will fail. The
administrations of major public universities need to consider metal health as a disease
that needs treatment, not a personal difficultly that needs to be overcome. There must
be more funding directly pumped into technological development of programs including
apps and modules to help students with identifying mental illness and then acting on
the problem.

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References
Apple. "Now Everybody Can Do Their Part to Advance Medical Research." Apple. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.
Center for Collegiate Mental Health. "Annual Report Offers Snapshot of U.S. College
Students' Mental Health, Needs | Penn State University." Annual Report Offers
Snapshot of U.S. College Students' Mental Health, Needs | Penn State
University. N.p., 5 Feb. 2015. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.
Counseling and Psychological Services. "Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS)."
Student Affairs at Penn State. Penn State Psychology Department, n.d. Web. 08
Apr. 2015.
Furr, S. R., Westefeld, J. S., McConnell, G. N., & Jenkins, J. M. (2001). Suicide and
depression among college students: A decade later. Professional Psychology:
Research and Practice, 32(1), 97-100. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/07357028.32.1.97
NAMI. "Learn About The Issue." NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI,
n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.

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Appendix

Appendix 1: Student Representative Mental Health Statistics from 2010 2013


http://www.apa.org/Images/2014-09-pressure-chart1_tcm7-175016.jpg

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