Conversations that Count: Making Mental Health Part of the College Prep Process

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Should mental health be a part of college admission and college prep process?

Grace Gedye, a recent graduate of Pomona College (CA), thinks so.

“Before I went to college four years ago, my parents and I had a ‘work hard in class’ talk and a ‘safe partying’ talk. But we didn’t discuss what to do if stress morphed into anxiety or depression. We should have,” she wrote a recent op-ed for the LA Times.

“Instead, that summer almost every conversation I had with an adult included some variation on: ‘These are going to be the best four years of your life.’ So I was prepped for highs. And when the lows hit, I thought I was alone.”

But Gedye was anything but alone.

Recent data show that 51 percent of college students who visited an on-campus counseling center in 2015-16 reported struggling with anxiety. Other common concerns were depression (41 percent), relationship issues (34 percent), suicidal ideation (20.5 percent), self-injury (14 percent), and alcohol abuse (10 percent).

Instead of only focusing on the positive, Gedye believes that all college-bound students should have an open dialogue about mental health with their parents, counselors, teachers, and friends.

“High school teachers and counselors who are already talking about success in college should work in mental health. To this day, my high school friends and I reference a speech a beloved chemistry teacher gave at our senior breakfast about his experience with depression during college,” she wrote.

“It wasn’t the pre-graduation pep talk we were expecting, but it was valuable to see that someone we knew and admired had gone through such a rough period and come out the other side.”

Ashley Dobson is NACAC’s communications manager for content and social media. You can reach her at adobson@nacacnet.org.

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