Mental health treatment for students

Published: Jun. 6, 2019 at 3:48 PM EDT
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We are living in anxious times these days, and that's taking its toll on teens and young adults.

More than six out of 10 college students report having overwhelming anxiety. Some so much that they have difficulty functioning.

As a result, an increasing number of students are seeking out treatment for mental health.

Brad Waldo knew that he was supposed to be one of the lucky ones. In high school, he had a 4.0 GPA, was on the football team and popular. But he was also struggling.

"For years, I was addicted to heroin and Xanax," Waldo said.

Brad's addiction was rooted in anxiety and depression. And he's not alone in feeling pressure. Sixty percent of college students suffer from anxiety or psychological distress.

"It was never even a discussion if I would go to college or not," he said. "And then, there's this other social stress. There's always eyes on you for social media."

Psychologist Jennifer MacLeamy says it's hard to separate everyday stress from real mental illness in teenagers and young adults.

"Really, loneliness and isolation is one of the things that we're seeing more and more in both teens and young adults," she said.

But parents play an important role.

"For parents, I would be aware of certain warning signs like withdrawal, changes in behavior from before - particularly around friends and school," MacLeamy said.

"I was at Newport Academy for 70 days," Waldo said. "I did outpatient therapy for a year, and then I've been engaged in therapy for the last eight years."

Waldo is now helping others who are struggling.

"It can be pretty remarkable the change that people make," MacLeamy said. "I think of it kind of as almost an unveiling in returning back to who they really have the capacity to be."

Seeking help is the first step.

In 2015, New York became the first state to require mental health education in public schools. Currently, more than 44 million American adults have a mental health illness.



BACKGROUND: Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, act, and also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected. Factors that can contribute to mental health problems include biological factors such as genes or brain chemistry, life experiences such as trauma or abuse, or family history. People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely. Approximately 46.6 million adults in the United States experiences mental illness in a given year, and approximately 11.2 million adults in the United States experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. About 1 in 5 youth aged 13 to18 experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children aged 8 to15, the average is 13 percent who experience a mental illness in a given year. (Source: and

CURRENT TREATMENTS AND SERVICES: Choosing the right mix of treatments and supports that work for you is an important step in the recovery process. Treatment choices for mental health conditions will vary from person to person. Even people with the same diagnosis will have different experiences, needs, goals and objectives for treatment. There is no "one size fits all" treatment. There are many tools that can improve the experience on the road to wellness: medication, counseling (therapy), social support and education. Therapy, for example, can take many forms, from learning relaxation skills to intensively reworking your thinking patterns. Social support, acceptance and encouragement from friends, family and others can also make a difference. Education about how to manage a mental health condition along with other medical conditions can provide the skills and supports to enrich the unique journey toward overall recovery and wellness. (Source:

BREAKTHROUGH IN UNDERSTANDING MENTAL HEALTH: New research out of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia offers some fresh insights into the mystery of visual hallucinations and pinpointing for the very first time specific mechanisms and pathways inside the brain that seem to play tricks with what our eyes see and perceive. Researchers have come up with a model that they believe could eventually lead to improvements in the way mental health patients are treated, including those with varying forms of dementia who experience hallucinations as a routine part of their symptoms. It highlights a new visual technique that works across the board to induce hallucinations in nearly everyone, revealing a specific area of the brain known as the visual cortex that processes visual information where hallucinations begin. "We have known for more than 100 years that flickering light can cause almost anyone to experience a hallucination," says associate professor Joel Pearson from UNSW's School of Psychology. "However, the unpredictability, complexity, and personal nature of these hallucinations make them difficult to measure scientifically." (Source: