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Updated 10:00 AM September 21, 2009

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Site offers resources for students with mental health conditions

This fall, students will have easier access to resources that can help them manage mental health conditions that could impair educational and social functioning.

The Web site was created by the Depression Center in partnership with the Division of Student Affairs to support U-M students who have been diagnosed with an ongoing mental health issue, such as recurrent depression, bipolar disorder or anxiety disorder. The site provides information and resources to help students manage their illness and get the most out of their college experience.

"It is absolutely critical that we have a focal point that gathers information to help students manage life in school so they succeed," says Dr. Melvin McInnis, Thomas B. and Nancy Upjohn Woodworth Professor of Bipolar Disorder and Depression in the Medical School Department of Psychiatry.

Students can lose valuable school time if they experience an episode while in school, McInnis says.

"The goal is to help students succeed," he says. "If drop-out rates decrease, we have succeeded."

The university offers a multitude of resources for students with mental illness, but the sheer number of options sometimes makes it difficult for students to navigate through the choices and find the best fit for their individual needs. The Campus Mind Works project helps to identify existing resources and simplify access to useful information. It is designed to work in concert with, a separate Web site developed for all U-M students to learn about mental health and wellness issues.

The Web site offers strategies and tools that students can use on an ongoing basis, either on their own or with their health care provider. The site can help students:

• Make a plan to stay healthy and manage their symptoms while in college.

• Connect with the resources and support services that are most appropriate for their specific needs, through an extensive and easy-to-search database.

• Transfer their mental health care from home to campus.

• Use self-care strategies in conjunction with their mental health treatment.

• Access information about mental health disorders, treatments, medications and insurance.

The new site's self-care resources include:

• An online medication diary for students to track their medication usage over time and print a summary form to take to their health care provider.

• A checklist of steps to consult before leaving campus for long breaks.

• Interactive worksheets on topics such as identifying possible stressors.

• A printable medication/insurance wallet card.

In addition to the Web site, the Campus Mind Works initiative includes outreach activities directed to students, faculty and staff to raise awareness of the site, encourage help-seeking, and reduce the stigma of depressive illnesses.

Campus Mind Works was made possible by the vision of Waltraud "Wally" Prechter, who has been critical in her support of U-M and the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund.

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