The ADAA (Anxiety & Depression Association of America) is offering a FREE webinar on Thursday, September 8. The topic is “How to Help Depressed and Suicidal Teenagers”.
“Rates of depression as well as suicidal and non-suicidal self-injury are surprisingly common among adolescents. Dr. Alec Miller will describe treatments that exist for them in clinical and school settings.”
This webinar series is intended for the general public. Details HERE.
A Diagnosis of Mental Illness Need Not End a College Career
A recent survey reports that 47% of adults living with schizophrenia drop out of college, compared to the 27% college dropout rate in the U.S. overall. Another study reports that students diagnosed with bipolar disorder are 70% more likely to drop out of college than students with no psychiatric diagnosis.
My son was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his junior year of college. I was devastated by what I perceived to be the loss of hope for his future, but he was determined to return to school and complete his degree. His university, which had been eager to help him withdraw when he became ill, was most unwilling to help him re-enroll after his symptoms were under control. When I called the Disability Services Office for help, a staff member told me, “Your son got in trouble…” I responded, “My son did not get in trouble, my son got sick.”
This kind of negative attitude from a university is tragic. Many young people with schizophrenia or other serious mental health conditions are perfectly capable of completing a college education. There is no reason for universities to discriminate against students living with mental illness—in fact, such discrimination is against the law.
College can be hard even without a bipolar diagnosis but with lifestyle changes and plenty of support, you can totally score that diploma.
As if you don’t have enough to handle just getting through college, wham—you get a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
Truth is, the timing makes biological sense. The late-teen years are a vulnerable period for onset of mental illness, whether you’re at college or not, because of the way the adolescent brain develops and teenagers typically behave.
Finding out you have bipolar is a blow, but it doesn’t need to knock you out of the game. With lifestyle changes and plenty of support, you can totally score that diploma—especially if you’re willing to take some extra time, have a plan B and, most of all, accept and accommodate the illness, says Russ Federman, PhD.
“I feel very optimistic about students’ ability to lead satisfying and productive lives,” says Federman, director of Counseling and Psychological Services at the University of Virginia (UVA) and co-author of Facing Bipolar: The Young Adult’s Guide to Dealing with Bipolar Disorder (New Harbinger, 2010).
The recent National VA Research Week (May 16-20) and PTSD Awareness Month in June are ideal times to assess the state of science regarding posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the often-debilitating psychiatric condition that can arise in the wake of intensely stressful life events such as combat, trauma or disaster.
Part of raising awareness about PTSD is publicizing the federal program devoted exclusively to gathering and disseminating scientific information about the illness: the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (NCPTSD), is a centers of excellence consortium with seven VA academic centers based on areas of special expertise.
NCPTSD has flourished since it was established in 1989, and continues to help policymakers, the medical and caregiving community, patients, and the general public understand the scientific basis for PTSD, circulating that information globally through a variety of educational and research initiatives.
“Research is helping us better understand how to address PTSD, how to prevent people from developing it, and how to treat it,” said NCPTSD Executive Director Paula Schnurr, Ph.D. “One of the most exciting changes in our field is that we have a range of effective treatments, so people who have PTSD have a choice among types of medications and among types of psychotherapies, and they can really see a life that goes beyond PTSD.”
PTSD now fully acknowledged as a serious mental illness.
Randi Silverman’s new film No Letting Go reflects the real-life struggles of her family after her middle son began to manifest early symptoms of bipolar disorder.
The bewildering effort to figure out what was wrong and how to make it better fired Randi’s passion to help other parents. She co-founded a support group, dove into advocacy, and wrote the script that became No Letting Go.
How closely does the movie mirror your own family’s experiences?
My son was actually diagnosed with bipolar disorder when he was 9 years old and seriously ill by age 10. In the movie, we made “Tim” a teenager because onset of mental illness during adolescence is more typical. Also, my son was treated voluntarily, but we wanted to acknowledge that it is often very difficult and painful to get teens to comply with treatment. Otherwise, every scene in the movie, every conversation, actually happened in real life in some way or another.
Why expose your family’s raw pain on screen?
It’s not my son’s fault that his brain works the way it does, any more than it is another child’s fault for having asthma or diabetes. I decided that if I didn’t talk about it honestly and without shame, then I couldn’t expect the conversation about mental health disorders to change. But I would never have put our story out there for the world to see if my family wasn’t 100 percent supportive.
According to the latest statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 43.8 million Americans, or 18.5% of the national population, experience mental illness every year.
College students with psychiatric disabilities face unique educational challenges. Dedicated mental health counselors and disability coordinators are available on most campuses, and students can typically seek medical attention. Many students, however, do not know how to get help for their problems. To help students get the assistance they need, we have examined instructional strategies, course accommodations, and other campus services designed to serve this population. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive resource for college-bound high school seniors and currently enrolled postsecondary students who struggle with mental illness.