"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, December 20, 2010

Child Doping Goes to College

Pressure cooker schools (see Race to Nowhere) and the doping of school children (see The War on Kids) are having a predictable but no less tragic outcome.  As reported by the New York Times, suicide, depression, cutting, bulimia, and other manifestations of mental illness are approaching epidemic proportions on college campuses.  Predictably, unnamed experts in the Times piece do not find the doping a children as the culprit but, rather, as allowing more troubled children to attend college:
Experts say the trend is partly linked to effective psychotropic drugs (Wellbutrin for depression, Adderall for attention disorder, Abilify for bipolar disorder) that have allowed students to attend college who otherwise might not have functioned in a campus setting. 
Big Pharma to the rescue for problems that child doping initiated, going back to Ritalin in elementary school.  I suggested to the Times reporter in an email that he read some of the work by Dr. Peter Breggin to get some facts that aren't purchased by Smith-Kline or one of their competitors.

Here is another clip from the Times piece that captures some of the reality at Stony Brook:
. . . .Stony Brook, an academically demanding branch of the State University of New York (its admission rate is 40 percent), faces the mental health challenges typical of a big public university. It has 9,500 resident students and 15,000 who commute from off-campus. The highly diverse student body includes many who are the first in their families to attend college and carry intense pressure to succeed, often in engineering or the sciences. A Black Women and Trauma therapy group last semester included participants from Africa, suffering post-traumatic stress disorder from violence in their youth.

Stony Brook has seen a sharp increase in demand for counseling — 1,311 students began treatment during the past academic year, a rise of 21 percent from a year earlier. At the same time, budget pressures from New York State have forced a 15 percent cut in mental health services over three years.

Dr. Hwang, a clinical psychologist who became director in July 2009, has dealt with the squeeze by limiting counseling sessions to 10 per student and referring some, especially those needing long-term treatment for eating disorders or schizophrenia, to off-campus providers.

But she has resisted the pressure to offer only referrals. By managing counselors’ workloads, the center can accept as many as 60 new clients a week in peak demand between October and the winter break.

“By this point in the semester to not lose hope or get jaded about the work, it can be a challenge,” Dr. Hwang said. “By the end of the day, I go home so adrenalized that even though I’m exhausted it will take me hours to fall asleep.”
For relief, she plays with her 2-year-old daughter, and she has taken up the guitar again.

Shifting to Triage
Near the student union in the heart of campus, the Student Health Center building dates from the days when a serious undergraduate health problem was mononucleosis. But the hiring of Judy Esposito, a social worker with experience counseling Sept. 11 widows, to start a triage unit three years ago was a sign of the new reality in student mental health.

At 9 a.m. on the Tuesday after the campus’s very busy weekend, Ms. Esposito had just passed the Purell dispenser by the entrance when she noticed two colleagues hurrying toward her office. Before she had taken off her coat, they were updating her about a junior who had come in the previous week after cutting herself and expressing suicidal thoughts.

Ms. Esposito’s triage team fields 15 to 20 requests for help a day. After brief interviews, most students are scheduled for a longer appointment with a psychologist, which leads to individual treatment. The one in six who do not become patients are referred to other university departments like academic advising, or to off-campus therapists if long-term help is needed. There are no charges for on-campus counseling.. . .

No comments:

Post a Comment