Thousands of university students struggle every year with mental health issues, but finding — and providing — help is often a battle in itself. Students may feel embarrassed and isolated while university officials are challenged with assessing an illness often hidden from view.
“Many Voices, One Vision: Assisting College and University Students With Mental Illness to Make the Most of Their Academic Experience,” a two-day conference at USC, will offer possible solutions from nearly every college stakeholder, including students, professors, university leaders, campus mental health professionals and parents.
A number of USC administrators are scheduled to take part in the discussion, including Katharine Harrington, vice president of USC Admissions and Planning; Lynette Merriman, assistant provost for Student Affairs, Support, and Advocacy; Johnnie Adams, deputy chief, Department of Public Safety (DPS); and John Thomas, executive director/chief, Career and Protective Services, DPS.
Co-sponsored by the Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy and Ethics and the USC Gould School of Law, the event will be held on March 12 and 13 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Town & Gown.
Nadine Kaslow, president of the American Psychological Association, and Jeffrey Liberman, president of the American Psychiatric Association, will join more than 40 college administrators, mental health experts and student presenters.
The forum will begin with a conversation between two students who struggled with mental illness while attending college. The students, who are now in law school and medical residency programs, will share their personal stories.
“I am very excited and pleased to be holding this conference,” said Elyn Saks, USC Gould professor and director and founder of the Saks Institute. “It is personal for me — I battled with mental illness as a student at Oxford and a law student at Yale. I know firsthand how isolating and terrifying this can be for students, many who are far away from their parents and homes.”
A range of other topics will be covered, including:
- Succeeding in college with a major mental illness: a developmental framework for negotiating transitions, academic demands, leaves of absence, psychiatric hospitalizations and reasonable accommodations
- Reducing the stigma of mental illness: preventing fear, risk management and miscommunication from derailing a successful academic experience
- Veterans with mental illness on campus and in the classroom: supporting our students who have supported our country
- Cultural competence in the assessment and treatment of campus mental illness
- Race, culture, religion and sexual orientation as compounding sources of stigma
- Students present their work: Active Minds, Free Minds, the American Bar Association student organization, Lived Experience Research Network and Student Veterans of America