Student strength: Addressing depression before it starts

How can college students draw upon their own strengths, resilience, and sense of social connectedness to help them maintain mental health and wellness?

Researchers, students and U-M community members will discuss this question at the annual Depression on College Campuses Conference, held March 7-8. The conference – which is marking its 10th anniversary – features workshops and sessions focused on reframing the discussion about mental health on college campuses by emphasizing the importance of student strengths in preventing depression.

For a decade, the conference has been a forum for researchers, school counselors, academic advisors and others from across the country to discuss the latest findings and practices related to the prevention of depression during the high-stakes college years. Rather than focus on the pathology of depressive illnesses, this year’s event will have an increased focus on students’ positive mental health as a protective factor against depression.

“College students have innate and impressive resiliency and the ability to learn new approaches for coping with stresses, as do most of us,” says John Greden, M.D., executive director of the U-M Depression Center. “Not enough attention has been paid to mobilizing these biological, social and learned strengths. This conference aims to fill that void.”

The two-day conference will feature in-depth workshops, sessions on a variety of topics and a panel discussion aimed at parents.

One workshop, targeted specifically at college students, will highlight strategies for maintaining good mental health through exercise, sleep and mindfulness. In addition, the panel discussion on the conference’s second day invites parents to discuss the best ways to help support their college student’s mental wellness.

Other areas of focus include:
• Addressing the unique mental health needs of students in the arts.
• Building resiliency skills in graduate students who will travel abroad.
• Transforming residence halls into supportive communities.

The keynote address features actress Brittany Snow, who founded Love is Louder, a group that supports the mental health of teenagers and young adults. Courtney Knowles, the director of Love is Louder, will also speak.

The conference will conclude with a performance by the U-M Educational Theatre Company which will portray real stories based on student interviews, showcasing the challenges students face when trying to achieve emotional balance in their lives..

The audience for the conference, which will be held at U-M’s Rackham Graduate School building, includes: counselors, nurses, physicians, students, academic advisers, residence education staff, university leaders and anyone with an interest in mental health among college students.

Registration is free for students from any campus, but an online registration form is still required. The registration fee for non-students is $130 (before February 1st) or $145 after. (Members of the media covering the event may register at no cost.)

A conference schedule and additional information can be found at:

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Media Contacts      Justin Harris: [email protected] 734-764-2220