The Interdisciplinary Approach to Depression and Mental Health Education
> 12/12/2005 9:09:16 AM

An article in today's Chicago Tribune looks at a new approach to educating college students about depression, bipolar disorder and other mental health problems.  Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students, but Susan Imus and Shannon Lengerich, the treatment's co-leaders, hope that The Making Connections Workshop can begin to stem the tide.

Building from a foundation that was laid in 2002 following the suicide of Shannon Hardy, a former dancer, Imus and Lengerich have developed a program in Making Connections that brings together body-based learning (dance, acting and breathing exercises) and more traditional discussion platforms.  The combination forces participants to not only explore the emotions and behaviors at play in an illness like depression, but also to face their own preconceived attitudes about mental health problems.

Imus and Lengerich's system represents a nice step forward in the effort to increase depression awareness as well as that of other mental health issues.  By utilizing a new approach, they should reach a new and hopefully different group of young people.  Suicide is obviously a large problem for colleges, but its importance doesn't make it any easier to talk about. Finding a way to communicate with students, and presenting the message in a way that will stick and maybe even be passed on should have resounding effects across university communities. 

The only drawback that I can see to Imus and Lengerich's Making Connections workshop would be that it is not as easily transmitted or repackaged for new audiences.  Universities and colleges will need to find the folks to bring to campus who can run the Making Connections program.  Nevertheless, new and different approaches to mental health education will only drive further innovation and hopefully awaken a new generation to the perils of the disorders of the mind.

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