DOCC 2003

Depression on College Campuses Conference 2003

Best Practices and Innovative Strategies

America’s awareness of depression issues has increased in recent years, in large part due to growing openness, changes in public policy, and visible leadership. However, depression in the young is still an under-recognized problem. We now know that depression appears first in the adolescent years, which coincides with the arrivals and tenures of individuals at college. In addition, recent national events confirm that depression among college students is a major neglected public health problem (at worst, it is a key factor contributing to suicide.) Therefore, if we are to make a difference in addressing depression in our communities, we must emphasize early detection and intervention. Only this approach will prevent the progression, chronicity, recurrence, and burden of depression.

To capitalize on the increased level of awareness and interest, The University of Michigan Depression Center and The Rackham School of Graduate Studies have co-sponsored a national conference entitled “Depression on College Campuses” which took place March 6 - 7, 2003 in Ann Arbor. The conference calls attention to and works to destigmatize the issue of depression on the college campus. Keynote speakers, scientific presenters, workshops, discussions groups, and video films review the scope and consequences of the problem, discuss optimal strategies for responding, identify barriers to implementation of those strategies, and seek to formulate public policy interventions to overcome these barriers, and catalyze a coordinated, comprehensive approach. 

Since the problem will only be solved if health professionals, university leaders, resident advisors and other students, preventive education specialists, third-party payers, journalists, and parents are involved, all have participated in and contributed to the conference. In addition, since widespread education and public policy changes are key strategies to improving the problem of depression, the role of the media and of the key advocacy organizations is emphasized. These groups are not separate; we need to learn from one another.

The Conference offered diverse topics for workshops and keynotes, addressing the issue from several different points of view with a focus on the practical.