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Monday, February 12, 2018

Mental Health Overlooked in College Transition

News headlines and social media feeds seem to be brimming with studies about how today’s teens are more stressed out and anxious than year’s past – and, yet, mental health is often left off of the college prep checklist, according to a new survey from WebMD, Medscape and JED.

According to the survey, “Preparing for College: The Mental Health Gap,” in the past five years, the majority of healthcare professionals noted a rise in mental health issues among teens: 
  • 86% said they have had more anxiety and stress.
  • 81% saw more anxiety disorders.
  • 70% reported seeing more mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder.
And parents echoed these findings, with 45 percent of those surveyed claiming that their teen had been diagnosed or treated for a mental health issue, learning disorder or substance abuse.

Yet here’s the surprising part: Only 28% of parents of teens with anxiety, stress or a mood disorder considered mental health services while choosing a school.

"If your child is already in therapy, don't assume it's going to go away once they start school,” Cora Collette Breuner, MD, a professor of pediatrics and adolescent medicine at Seattle Children's Hospital and the University of Washington, told WebMD. “Assume the opposite."

College presents what experts call a sort of “perfect storm” for mental health issues. For one, nearly 75 percent of all mental health conditions begin by age 24, and there’s also a significant amount of stress during this time. In other words, the college years are a critical time to understand and talk about mental health with your kid. Even if it doesn’t touch your child, he or she might deal with a roommate who is in emotional distress.

The survey stressed the need for all parents – not just those of kids with issues – to discuss mental health concerns. "It's going to touch your family's life, and certainly your child's life in one way or another," Stephanie Pinder-Amaker, PhD, director of the College Mental Health Program at McLean Hospital, told WebMD. "It does so much to decrease stigma and fear and anxiety just to talk about these issues."

Do You Need Dual-Diagnosis Treatment?
Co-occurring mental health conditions like depression may exist prior to substance abuse, or develop as a side effect of drug and alcohol dependency. At Hope Academy, we conduct a series of tests upon admission to determine if mental illness is complicating substance abuse. Once we gain a comprehensive understanding of each patient’s individual health challenges, our addiction treatment team develops a customized program. To learn more, call 866-930-4673.

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