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Updated 5:00 PM March 16, 2007




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Conference to focus on better depression treatment for students

Every year, more than one thousand college students die by suicide, and thousands more attempt to kill themselves. Tens of thousands of other students struggle with depression, bipolar disorder and related problems such as addiction, prescription drug and alcohol abuse, anorexia and bulimia, and self-mutilation or cutting.

Colleges and universities across the country are working to help students understand these issues and get help. Representatives from many campuses will gather March 19-20 at U-M to share information about what has worked for them and to get the latest research results.

The fifth annual Depression on College Campuses Conference, organized by the Depression Center in collaboration with many schools and colleges, takes place at a time when new national statistics suggest that suicide is on the rise among teenagers; a time when parents are worried about the safety of treating young people with antidepressant medications. Meanwhile, colleges are struggling with an ever-increasing demand for counseling services and with legal issues involving suicidal students.

The conference will begin with a first-person account from Aimee Belisle, who sought treatment for depression while a student at Bentley College, and later made depression awareness her platform during her time as the 2004 Miss Rhode Island. It also will feature speakers from U-M and institutions such as Harvard, Stanford, Cornell, Penn State and New York University.

Conference sessions will focus on treatment options including talk therapy, carefully monitored medication regimens, Internet-based tools, and telemedicine consultations with psychiatrists for students at rural colleges. Panel discussions will examine University policies and protocols for helping severely distressed students, and also identify key sources of data on student mental health, which can be used to help determine appropriate programs and services.

Another highlight of the conference will be the presentation of the first-ever Student Mental Health Advocate Award presented by Kathy Cronkite, an author and advocate who has spoken publicly of her own struggle with depression.

Continuing medical education credit is available for physicians, psychologists, nurses and social workers.

To register or for more information, visit, send e-mail to or call 763-7495.

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