In The Miami Hurricane’s opinion piece, Campus Must Care for Mental Health (Jan. 26, 2014), The Hurricane’s editorial board reminds us of the importance of embracing a most difficult dialogue about the current state of mental health among college students. In this opinion piece, the editorial board also mentions the recent loss by suicide of Madison Holleran, a student-athlete at the University of Pennsylvania. The death by suicide of Ms. Holleran is indeed sad, and while we can only imagine how family, friends, and the UPenn community have been impacted by her loss, we genuinely keep her and her family and friends in our thoughts and prayers.
After accidents, suicide is the second leading cause of death among U.S. college students. Multiple factors play a role in a suicide, including psychiatric illness, neurobiology, impulsiveness, hopelessness, medical history, psychological vulnerability, suicidal behavior, access to weapons, severe medical illness, substance use/abuse, trauma history, family history and isolation.
So I commend and sincerely thank The Miami Hurricane editorial board for encouraging all of us to establish and maintain a dialogue around college mental health concerns. This dialogue can help us increase awareness and educate ourselves and others on these issues, including ways of supporting others in need and connecting them to the appropriate resources within the University of Miami.
Our resources include programs such as Canes Care for Canes, the University Troubleshooters, our campus suicide prevention program UM Unites, the Academic Resource Center, the Student Health Center, and obviously, the Counseling Center, to name a few. Several staff members of UM’s Department of Housing and Residential Life are trained to assist others in need, including mental health concerns. If you are a student interested in getting involved, organizations such as COPE and BARE, both housed within the Counseling Center, offer opportunities to engage in this meaningful dialogue and participate in the education of others. Faculty and Staff can also volunteer as part of the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART).
Last, with regards to the Counseling Center’s wait list problem highlighted in this editorial piece, the Counseling Center has taken this issue very seriously and is currently taking the necessary steps to address staffing issues as well as modifications to the point-of-entry process for students. The latter will contribute to a more prompt screening of a student’s concerns by a professional counselor. If you are interested in our services or have feedback to share, you may reach us at 305-284-5511. If you see someone in need, do something.
Ernesto Escoto is the director of UM’s Counseling Center.