The Texan Talks: mental health and suicide prevention

Walker Fountain

This week, the Daily Texan forum will discuss mental health and suicide prevention efforts on the University of Texas campus. This important topic — coupled with our discussion of sexual assault prevention just a few weeks ago — will hopefully shed some light on the ongoing University efforts to improve systemic issues of depression, suicidal thoughts and other mental illnesses. A 2010 survey of College Counseling Directors found that 44 percent of those seeking mental healthcare assistance at counseling centers nationwide had severe psychological problems — a startling uptick from the 16 percent reported in 2000. Perhaps this is due to the lowering of stigma — as colleges and the American population recognize and combat the stigma surrounding mental health issues, more people are incentivized to seek treatment.

Despite some successes, the numbers are startling. Students, now more than ever before, are under tremendous amounts of stress. Many hold part-time jobs in addition to heavy course loads. The introduction of the Internet and social media have made managing a social circle its own type of job, often demanding and emotionally tasking. It is no wonder that students often have difficulty coping with those issues.

Thankfully, there are a dedicated team of professionals employed by the University to help ameliorate these problems. The Counseling and Mental Health Center have resources that aid University students undergoing mental health crises and work to lower the incidence of suicide and improve outcomes for students on campus.

Today, we will hear from some of the people who provide these services, Marian Trattner, the suicide prevention and outreach coordinator for CMHC, and Jackson Clifford and Katie McDermott, both of whom are students involved in suicide prevention on campus. The discussion will take place, as always, in the Texas Union Sinclair Suite, at 11 a.m. The talk will center on resources and procedures currently in place to limit the incidence of suicide and improve mental health services and outcomes.

Fountain is a government senior from Pelham, New York. Follow him on Twitter @wf_atx.