The Difficulty of Transitioning to College for Students with Mental Health Issues, PTSD in WWII Vete
Welcome back to In Case You Missed It (our weekly roundup of articles touching on psychology, health, mental health and social justice issues from multiple news and commentary websites). This week, we address the challenges affecting first year college students with mental health issues, PTSD affecting World War II veterans 70 years post conflict, the resilience of refugees streaming into Europe and more.
All over the country, high school graduates are making the jump to college. However, for students dealing with mental health issues, it can be a terrifying transition. Sometimes, it raises the question: Is college really an option? Students and parents can take a number of key steps to ease this transition. For example, they can research what counseling services schools offer and meet in person with the counselors. Students can seek out support groups, which a lot of schools now have, and they can sign disclosures allowing their parents access to information about their kid’s mental health. For more on this topic, read the Strategic Primer on College Mental Health that APA coproduced with two higher education organizations.
Their War Ended 70 Years Ago. Their Trauma Didn’t. – The Washington Post
Novelist Tim Madigan describes the experiences of World War II veterans who informed his recent book. They talked of night terrors, heavy drinking, survivor’s guilt, depression, exaggerated startle responses, profound and lingering sadness. Although their symptoms were familiar to the world, the post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis that emerged in 1980 was widely assumed to be unique to veterans of Vietnam. The emotional toll of World War II was hard to miss in the immediate postwar years, but World War II was soon overshadowed by the Cold War and eventually Vietnam. By the 1990s, the psychological costs of the last “good war” had been forgotten. However, the costs remain high – a 2010 California study showed that aging World War II veterans were four times more likely to commit suicide than those their age who had not served in the military.
The New York Police Department’s training facility has created a training program meant to help patrol officers learn how to handle interactions with individuals with emotional or mental distress. Officers in New York City find themselves frequently managing crises, from erratic individuals with mental illness to suicides. NYPD hopes to change public perception of the department having hard-charging officers who do not have the necessary training to handle these situations that can sometimes end tragically. New York’s training program is modeled off a nationally recognized instructional model called Crisis Intervention Training. As part of this model psychologists and other community mental health experts help police officers to have the knowledge of how to recognize signs of mental illness, and how to correctly respond to crisis situations. With their help, the department has already created a small, highly trained unit prepared to handle some of the city’s mental health cases. The training is meant to give all New York City cops a better chance at de-escalating crisis situations. Psychologists and other community mental health experts are not just educating officers about mental illness but also helping in changing the understanding of individuals with mental illness. For more on this topic, read recent APA Monitor article Circles of Protection.
The psychological and social stresses often experienced by refugees during migration can double the prevalence of severe disorders (psychosis, severe depression and disabling anxiety), and increase the figures of mild to moderate mental disorders from 10% to 15-20%, according to the World Health Organization (pdf). The consequences of failing to provide sufficient psychological support to those in need is well established, but mental health support for refugees is often neglected. “In the current refugee crisis, with tens of thousands of desperate and exhausted refugees attempting to reach safe havens in Europe, mental health and psychosocial wellbeing is somewhat overlooked amid all the needs that are vying for attention,” says Pieter Ventevogel, senior mental health officer at UN refugee agency UNHCR. Despite the repeated traumas so many refugees encounter on their migration journey, we must not forget the resilience they possess. “These people are stronger than us,” reflects Pina Deiana, one of only two Médecins Sans Frontières psychologists providing aid to thousands of refugees in Sicily. For more on this topic, read about APA’s report on the psychosocial effects of war on children and families.
APA Exclusive – In the Public Interest (September 2015)
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