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February 15, 2006

Coping with crisis on campus: U-M conference will focus on college mental health issues after disasters

Speakers from campuses affected by Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, dorm fires and suicides will share insights at fourth Depression on College Campuses event

ANN ARBOR, MI – In the past few years, college campuses across the country have been rocked by crisis, from regional disasters such as hurricanes and terrorist attacks to local incidents including accidents, fires and clusters of suicides.

DOCC LogoIn each case, college officials, students and faculty have had to cope with the immediate and lingering mental effects of these situations — at the same time that they deal with the heavy burden of depression and other mental disorders that affect an estimated one in ten members of the college-age population.

On March 21 and 22, hundreds of representatives from dozens of higher-education institutions will come together at the University of Michigan for a conference where they can share tactics and insights about preparing for and coping with crisis.

The fourth annual Depression on College Campuses conference, sponsored by the U-M Depression Center, will feature speakers from campuses affected by Hurricane Katrina, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City, dormitory fires, the deadly collapse of a homecoming weekend bonfire, and a rash of suicides.

It will also include experts from the U-M and other campuses who have particular expertise in disaster preparedness, post-crisis mental health counseling, and college mental health issues. Members of the Michigan Center for Public Health Preparedness, part of the U-M School of Public Health, will be among the speakers; the center is co-sponsoring the conference. Nineteen U-M schools, colleges and administrative units have provided conference support.

John Greden, MD“In the wake of so many extraordinary events that have affected our nation’s campuses, we hope this conference will foster the sharing of plans and effective tactics, encourage open discussion of challenges, and help more campuses prepare to handle the mental health aspects of crises of all kinds,” says John Greden, M.D., executive director of the U-M Depression Center and chair of the Department of Psychiatry in the U-M Medical School.

Students, as well as college health specialists, faculty and administrators, can play an active role in preparing for and responding to a crisis, he notes. The conference will feature special sessions for students, with student mental health advocates from U-M and other campuses.

Registration for the conference is free for students, including physicians in training. The fee for all others is $99 before March 1 and $115 after that. Lunch on March 21 is available for $15 per person. Group discounts are available until March 1. To register or for more information, visit www.depressioncenter.org, e-mail depconfquestion@umich.edu or call 734-615-4474.

Written by Kara Gavin

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