Thursday, June 24, 2010

But not my kid!

By R. Scott Benson, M.D.

A recent study by the Jed Foundation and the American Psychiatric Foundation showed that most parents of college age children understand that there is a high rate of depression, suicide, and substance abuse problems in college.

“But not my kid!” Nearly two-thirds thought these problems would not affect their children.

Surveys of college students show that most experience important mental health issues in themselves or a friend. And other studies have shown that emotional problems are a leading impediment to college success.

Now that the excitement of senior trips and graduation has settled families are putting the finishing touches on a transition plan as their teenager moves to the excitement of higher education. Most families have discussed the obvious needs – a place to live, what courses to take, how to pay for all of it. But families should take time to discuss the possibility of problems and how to get help.

Since this new territory is fraught with emotional pitfalls the American Psychiatric Foundation has teamed with the Jed Foundation to develop a website of information that will provide a framework for this important discussion. Transition Year has material to help parents and teens learn the warning signs of problems. And systematically collect contact information preparing for the situation where help is needed. The site has collected links to reliable sources of information about psychiatric conditions that are often seen in college age youth.

The site would be useful to families who are still considering their child’s college options. An entire section on “Choosing a school” provides guidance on important issues to explore in order to find a best fit.

Of course in some communities the choice is simple. Go, Gators!

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