The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that approximately 40 percent of college students coping with “diagnosable mental health conditions” do not ask for help. This is related to both stigma and cost, but also denial that a problem exists. Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, aims to empower its students with insight into their own mental health through the campus’ new “mental health kiosk.”
The kiosk, located at Drexel Recreation Center, screens for six mental health disorders. The touch screen prompts the user with a series of questions to screen for anxiety, depression, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder and substance abuse. At the end of the assessment, the individual is told whether he or she should seek assistance from a mental health professional. The kiosk is surrounded by pamphlets and business cards for nearby professionals and on-campus counselors and treatment.
Drexel University has an active counseling center, though school officials note that these resources only reach those who are willing to address their mental health issues. Annette J. Molyneux, Ph.D., associate dean for the university’s Office of Counseling and Health, explains, “We manage to meet the needs of the students coming in to receive care from us, but there are lots and lots of students out there who don’t ever make it in to see us. Those are the students we need to reach out to.”
Though the students participate anonymously, one concern is that they will be nervous to approach the kiosk due to the stigma surrounding mental health disorders. Officials hope the presence of the kiosk “mainstreams mental health,” but students are able to take the same assessment online from the comfort of their homes, if preferred. Paul Furtaw, associate director of the university’s counseling program, notes that students today are more likely than previous generations to accept mental health problems in others but are often unwilling to accept if they are coping with the same issues.
This project is the product of a partnership Drexel University has with the Thomas Scattergood Foundation. The organization’s president, Joe Pyle, understands the need for such resources within the college community. He notes, “The stigma that comes from mental health issues inhibits discussions. The big success of this is that the university stepped up and said, ‘We have to do better,’ and that’s number one. Just having the kiosk visible will create a whole secondary level of conversation.”
Drexel University and the Thomas Scattergood Foundation hope the dialogue started by this mental health kiosk will encourage students in need to seek help. If you or a loved one is coping with mental health issues, call Sovereign Health Group today at (866) 819-0427. Sovereign Health specializes in treating individuals facing mental health disorders, substance abuse and dual diagnosis.
Written by Courtney Howard, Sovereign Health Group writer