mental health on campus

Addiction Reaches Every Corner of Society

The University of Southern California is reeling under allegations of campus drug use by the former medical school dean, Dr. Carmen A. Puliafito, who has been fired. People are calling this situation a scandal, which it is in the way the university covered it up, but I view this as more of a tragedy. Addiction is an issue that impacts almost every organization and every walk of life. It is an illness that is poorly understood and even more poorly treated. Addiction never happens in a vacuum. There are always indicators that there is an issue. What is lacking are appropriate interventions. If a school of medicine fails to understand this, how in the world can we possibly expect other organizations to do so?

 Last week, I blogged about the tragic death of a lawyer who was lost to addiction. It is incumbent on every organization to contact professionals who deal with addictions in order to recognize the indicators, understand the positive methods by which to intervene at the earliest possible stage, and learn how to support the individual. Bystanders, friends and family also have an obligation here. They almost always know there is something amiss. To them I offer the same advice—educate yourself. The life you save may be someone very close to you.

Andrew Faas is the author of From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire

Photo credit: USC

Mental Health is a Major Challenge in All Environments

One of the unique features of the university setting is that it often doubles as educational institution and place of employment for students as well as staff. Like workplaces all over North America, providing mental health care is a major challenge. According to statistics from Mental Health America, one in four adults live with mental illness. And yet colleges are just now waking up to the pressing need for services on campus, according to a recent series in USA Today.

There are a number of reasons for the significant increase in the need for mental health services. For one thing, thanks to better treatments and therapies young adults living with mental illness are now able to attend college, something that was unobtainable a generation ago. But old stigmas die hard, and college students can be reluctant to get help if it means that their parents might find out. And for those willing to reach out, there are often too few services and those services are poorly conceived for this complex population. Sadly, many times little or improvement is made until a campus is turned upside down by tragedy.

Another issue is how to fund mental health programs on campuses. Charging students for services can be a deterrent to seeking help when issues are being kept from parents. There are grants in some states, but these may not be enough to increase services to needed levels.

All of this is why I’m working with Mental Health America and the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Our need for psychologically healthy, safe and fair workplaces can and must extend to higher education.

Andrew Faas is the author of From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire

Photo credit: BIGSTOCK