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WSU medical school on tackling mental health

A new global study is shining the spotlight on mental health among college students.

Many Students have been back to school for a few weeks now.

A new global study is shining the spotlight on mental health among college students.

“They are moving to medical school, transitioning to a new place, meeting new friends, finding a new apartment and social network,” said Dr. Danny Teraguchi, Associate Dean , Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine at Washington State University.

College can be challenging on many levels.

A worldwide study surveyed almost 14,000 college freshmen from 19 colleges in eight industrialized countries, including the United States. Students filled out questionnaires to evaluate common mental disorders, including major depression, generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder.

The results that were published by the American Psychological Association found that one in three students reports dealing with a mental health condition.

Many high achieving students don't recognize the stress they are actually under.

“There is a scale that we often use in medical school that lists different life events by point. A death in the family, moving, relationships, I had students fill those out, some of them don't realize they had six or seven of them in their life,” Dr. Teraguchi said.

Authors of the study said these numbers show that mental health is a global issue and colleges must take greater urgency in addressing the problem.

The medical school faculty at WSU tackles stress and life-work balance at the beginning of the school year.

“We map out the stressors that they are going to face in medical school, we try to learn from the undergraduate level of different mental health conditions and mental health as a stigma and debunk those as they come into medical school and provide resources early on rather than wait until they get into trouble,” said Dr. Teraguchi.

They hope their approach will help students manage stress for life .

“What we have come up with is a ten year success plan for every student. Not for just medical school, but for when they are planning beyond medical school, mortgage debt repair, retirement and having a family," said Dr. Teraguchi.

Past research shows that only 15 to 20 percent of undergraduate students get the help they need.

"Sometimes I don't think they understand what the resources are for, counselors are not just for crisis they are helping them with their study behaviors, they don’t realize all of these little things that pile up and create anxiety can be addressed little by little,” said Dr. Teraguchi.

Even though the study tracked freshman students this information is helping under graduate and graduate level programs to be proactive and work together.

"I think even if we talk about suicide, making it in the open, these are issues, not just as students but as people, this is the same issue as addressing a physical cut, there is a stigma about mental health and making sure people understand that this is something we need to address as a community, it's okay to seek help, just like a physical injury or cancer," said Dr. Teraguchi.