Mental Health Issues

It is a fact that over the past decade or so campuses across the nation, UCSB included, have been
experiencing a steady increase in the number of students with mental health issues. Additionally, the
severity of the conditions that universities are encountering is growing. A larger population of students
with psychological conditions, some severe, appears to be a permanent characteristic of campus life.

Though the vast majority of students with psychological conditions are successful in college, these
students often have a different set of needs and expectations than we used to encounter a decade ago.

These students may need a more extensive and intensive mental health support system from our counseling center, student health, disabled students programs, residence halls, student life office, and other student services. 

Sending a son or daughter off to college is a proud and happy moment, but it can also be the source of anxiety. Parents want to be reassured that the campus can provide appropriate student support services so that all students can be successful.

We at UCSB have been aware of the trend in student mental health and for some years have been working to better serve the students and the campus as a whole. UCSB assumed a leadership role in a task force formed at the UC system-wide level in January of 2006. Under the leadership of UCSB’s vice chancellor for student affairs, Dr. Michael Young, and a faculty member from UC San Diego, Dr. Joel Dimsdale, the task force undertook an evaluation of the UC system’s mental health services and developed a set of recommendations ( ) for strengthening those services across the system. The Board of Regents made two initial allocations of funds needed to begin implementation of some of the recommendations. Those funds have been used to augment the Counseling and Psychological Services and Student Health staff as well as create a new department dedicated to assisting students in psychological distress, Student Mental Health Coordination Services.

If your student has a history of mental or physical health issues, the best strategy for ensuring success at UCSB is to develop a plan for his or her care prior to arrival on campus. There are a number of important considerations to keep in mind, such as transferring care to local health professionals, planning for the transition to living away from home, setting up new routines for taking medication regularly, and adjusting to a new schedule. College life is full of distractions, and some students have setbacks in managing their illnesses by forgetting their medications or electing not to take them. In preparation for the transition to college, we strongly recommend that you contact the professionals in our campus Social Work Services at Student Health at (805) 893-3087 who can provide information, guidance, advice, and assistance.

Student Mental Health Coordination Services

UCSB’s Coordinator of Student Mental Health Services Angela Andrade is a readily accessible single point of contact for parents, faculty, staff, and students who are concerned about a distressed student and do not know which office to contact. She will discuss concerns, provide referrals to campus departments, develop action plans, and follow up with parents, students, staff, and faculty as appropriate.

Active Minds: Educating and Enlightening About Mental Health

Active Minds is an organization which appears on college campuses across America. It was founded by Alison Malmon, who was inspired to fight mental health stigma after her brother committed suicide. She wanted to help people like her brother Brian, who suffer from mental health issues, to not be afraid to get the help they need. Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder can and do affect everyone, even if it’s through a friend or family member. Young adults aged 18-24 have the highest prevalence of diagnosable forms of mental health disorders. This, along with the fact that suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students, puts college campuses in great need of mental health awareness. 

One of the main goals of Active Minds is to fight the negative connotations surrounding mental health issues in order to make people more willing to get the help that they need. Active Minds is not a support group. The focus is on creating awareness of campus resources, encouraging students to seek help, and breaking down stigmas about mental health. Showing people their resources, fighting negative stigma, and increasing awareness bring us one step closer to helping students on campus to seek the help they need as casually as they would if they had a sinus infection. Interested students can get involved in Active Minds and help make a difference on campus. Contact information for Active Minds can be found on the UCSB OrgSync website.