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Promoting effective self-care in college students with mental illnesses

Drinking, drug use, other unhealthy coping mechanisms focus of 11th-annual U-M Depression on College Campuses conference

ANN ARBOR, Mich.

Rather than seeking out healthy treatment options, many college students experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety too often resort to unhealthy coping practices like drug use, drinking, or self-injury.

The University of Michigan Depression Center will host its 11th-annual Depression on College Campuses Conference on Feb. 26-27, with an emphasis on discussing strategies to promote and advocate for healthy self-care. Clinicians, students, researchers, and U-M community members will come together to discuss how campuses can better identify students who may be using unhealthy coping mechanisms, and support these students in moving toward better self-management and treatment.

The conference has been a forum for school counselors, researchers, advocacy members, academic advisors and others from across the country to discuss the latest findings and practices related to the prevention of depression and its consequences during the high-stakes college years.

“Too often college campuses take a risk management approach to unhealthy behaviors like drinking and drug use, and don’t look at the underlying reasons why students are exhibiting such behavior,” says John Greden, M.D., executive director of the U-M Depression Center. “With this conference, our goal is to focus upon those situations that lead some students to choose to self-medicate or self-treat, which are never good choices. Most importantly, we will focus on what we can do as a campus community to encourage healthy self-care, emphasize prevention, and offer effective forms of treatment when needed.”

The two-day conference will feature in-depth workshops, and concurrent sessions on a variety of topics, and a panel discussion specifically for students.

Other areas of focus include:

  • New approaches for treating eating disorders.
  • Assessing the relationship between non-medical prescription drug use, depressive symptoms and suicide among college students.
  • Examining  how college students discuss depression on Facebook
  • Addressing student-athlete mental health and substance abuse issues

This year’s keynote speaker is Donald Vereen, M.D., M.P.H., director of the U-M Substance Abuse Research Center and the director of the Community Academic Engagement Prevention Research Center at U-M’s School of Public Health.

The two-day conference will conclude with a panel discussion, focusing on new online interventions to promote good mental health practices for college students.

The audience for the conference, which will be held at U-M’s Rackham Graduate School building, includes: counselors, nurses, physicians, students, academic advisers, residence education staff, university leaders and anyone with an interest in mental health among college students.

Registration is free for students from any campus, but an online registration form is still required. The registration fee for non-students is $130 (before February 1st) or $145 after. (Members of the media covering the event may register at no cost.)

A conference schedule and additional information can be found at: http://www.depressioncenter.org/docc/

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