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NAMI Advocate e-newsletter, September 2006

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Dear Friend of NAMI,

In this issue of the NAMI Advocate e-newsletter we provide the results of a new survey of college mental health services. We also take a look at a new album that raises awareness of mental illness, a book on electroconvulsive therapy, and much more.

A Snapshot of College Mental Health Centers

For many people, college is one of the best times of life. The college years provide a critical transition from childhood to adulthood, as well as a unique time to pursue academic interests and bond with friends.

However, the college years (typically 18 to 24 years of age) also coincide with the age of onset for serious mental illnesses and can be a crucial time to diagnose and treat young people in the early stages of a mental illness. And, because of improvements in early detection, more students now than ever are entering college already having a diagnosis of a serious mental illness and a treatment plan. Together, this means that mental illness is a growing reality on college campuses today.

To gauge the readiness of college campuses in supporting students with mental health needs, NAMI National surveyed the directors of selected campus mental health centers. The sample included 150 colleges and universities known for academic excellence and represented public and private, large and small institutions in every region of the country.

The results provide a snapshot of mental health practices and policies at colleges across the country, including:

A spreading awareness of mental health on campus

* Eighty-eight percent of campus mental health centers provide training for on-campus employees in various departments, including residential staff, academic advisers, and campus security.

The vast majority of mental health centers have the capacity to treat students with serious mental illness

* Approximately three-quarters of mental health centers either employ a psychiatrist or have a partnership with a community-based psychiatrist for referrals.

University policies are flexible for students with serious mental illness

* Eighty-eight percent of schools offer students in need of intensive psychiatric care a leave of absence without academic penalty. For students who have attempted suicide, the majority of schools evaluate the student’s standing on a case-by-case basis.

* For students returning after a leave of absence, schools connect students to a variety of supports, both on and off-campus.

To get involved in college mental health, consider starting a campus affiliate of NAMI. To date, thirty-one schools have a NAMI on Campus affiliate to provide education, support, and advocacy for students with mental illnesses. For more information, visit the NAMI on Campus Web site.

Depression in the Dorms: What You Need to Know About Mental Health and College Blog NAMI recently partnered with to bring you relevant information from their Web site. The following is an article by Deborah Grey from’s depression site .

While I won't go so far as to say that my college years were the best of my life, it's a period I remember fondly. Except for the two dark holes of depression that I recall all too well. One occurred when I was expelled for one semester and the other reared its ugly head in my last semester of college. At that point, in the early 1980s, there was very little discussion of depression, and no one at my college knew what was happening in my life.

Depression has been on the rise among college students in the past two decades. One factor is very likely earlier diagnosis and improvements in antidepressants that enable young people with mental illness to function at a higher level. Read More...

Guitarist Raises Awareness with New Album

Photo courtesy DetroitCountryMusic.comLike most Americans, chart-topping jazz musician Joyce Cooling did some soul-searching and re-evaluated her priorities following the events of 9/11. The award-winning guitarist even questioned her chosen career in music, but ultimately decided it was still the right path for her.

In 2005, as she began work on her seventh album, Cooling found herself wanting more of a personal connection with her music. “I didn’t want to write about sunsets and highways,” she said. “I wanted to keep my 2001 promise to myself about making the music real and about something that matters.”

That “something” for Cooling was her brother’s struggle with schizophrenia. Read More...

NAMI Book ShelfThis Issue:



Shock:The Healing Power of Electroconvulsive Therapy is a book that needs to be read by practitioners, consumers, family members, and even policymakers. You may be surprised, rather than shocked.

“There is no treatment in psychiatry more frightening than electroconvulsive therapy” (ECT), sometimes also known as electroshock therapy, the book begins. “There also is no treatment in psychiatry more effective than ECT.”

Shock is two books in one, built in alternating chapters. The first is Kitty Dukakis’ personal narrative about her long struggle with the drug addiction and alcoholism that masked an underlying bipolar disorder -- which she in recent years has overcome through ECT. The other is Larry Tye’s journalistic examination of ECT as a therapy, and the controversies that surround it. Read more…

NAMI Members Honored with SAMHSA Voice Awards

Voice AwardsThe U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has honored NAMI members Sandra McQueen-Baker of Florida and Lynn Kohr and Nancy Jensen of Kansas, with “Voice Awards” sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The awards were presented in Los Angeles at a ceremony hosted by actress Mariel Hemingway, in conjunction with SAMHSA’s National Anti-Stigma Campaign. Read More...

Mental Illness Awareness Week is October 1-7

MIAWMental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) is sponsored by NAMI and is an annual, national observance that was created by a Presidential proclamation in 1990 to focus attention on the high incidence of mental illness in America. Over the past 17 years, MIAW has become a tradition in the NAMI grassroots.

During MIAW, millions of Americans will be honoring the challenges encountered by mental illness as well as celebrating the recoveries they or their loved ones have embraced. This year’s theme, Building Community, Taking Action, allows us all to join together in our communities across America to confront injustice, denounce stigma, and work together to build on the vision found in NAMI’s landmark “Grading of the States” report.

Find out how to get involved in your community.

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