5.29 Learning to listen to distressed classmates, The New York Times, Apr. 15, 2011
A number of colleges and universities are implementing programs to teach students how to respond to peers who are experiencing depression, anxiety, or other forms of mental distress. “Students aren’t necessarily calling hotlines or going to drop-in centers,” said Alison K. Malmon, founder and executive director of Active Minds, an organization that works to raise awareness of mental health issues on college campuses. “They are talking to their peers.” According to a nationwide study published in 2009, half of students seriously considering suicide disclosed suicidal intent; of these students, two-thirds told a peer. Since Worcester Polytechnic Institute started a peer support program in 2007, the number of students visiting counselors has increased 57 percent. At Edward Waters College in Jacksonville, Florida, after 20 students were trained in peer-to-peer support, 16 students came to counseling consistently for a year; this compared to “barely anyone” coming to the counseling center before the students were trained to refer peers in distress. Building on this success, Edward Waters won a grant for a suicide prevention program. Currently, about 35 students per week visit the counseling center.
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