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Wake Forest forum to focus on college students' mental health

March 7, 2008

More college students are experiencing psychological problems such as depression, anxiety and eating disorders.  To better understand college students’ mental health issues and explore what can be done to help students handle the pressures of college life,  Wake Forest University will host the forum “College of the Overwhelmed:  Facing Facts, Finding Solutions” April 7.

The conference, part of the university’s Voices of Our Time series, will feature Richard Kadison, author of the book “College of the Overwhelmed: The Campus Mental Health Crisis and What to Do about It” as the keynote speaker.   A panel discussion, featuring Kadison and the directors of the counseling centers at Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia, will focus on six key topics:  putting the problem in perspective, modifying the culture of pressure, identifying emotional challenges in college, reconciling privacy and group safety, recognizing warning signs and knowing how to help.

The forum will be held from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Brendle Recital Hall of the Scales Fine Arts Center.   The event is free and open to the public.

"Nationwide attention has recently been focused on college student mental health,” said Wake Forest University President Nathan O. Hatch.  “We want to provide a forum for discussion of this critically important and timely topic.”

Kadison will give his address at 3:30 p.m.  He is the chief of the Mental Health Service at Harvard University.  He is a psychiatrist who has worked with students around the country on dealing with the increase in student mental illness on college campuses.  In his address “Why are Students Overwhelmed?” Kadison will discuss the problems students bring with them to campus.

"The reality is that many young adults enter college with problems and concerns that only increase with the pressure and competitive nature of the college environment,” said Samuel T. Gladding, chair of Wake Forest’s counseling department and one of the organizers of the event. “We planned the conference to help college faculty and staff, parents, students and counselors learn more solution-focused ways that can help students who may be discontent or struggling with their college experience.”

A panel discussion focused on solutions will follow Kadison’s talk.  Gladding will moderate the panel.  Kadison will be joined by Christopher Flynn, director of the Thomas E. Cook Counseling Center at Virginia Tech, and Russ Federman, director of Counseling and Psychological Services in the department of student health at the University of Virginia. 

Flynn directed the response by mental health professionals to the Virginia Tech shooting last April and has recently been a consultant to the staff, students and faculty at Northern Illinois University.

Federman recently testified before the U.S. Senate and at the Virginia Governor’s review board examining the campus shootings at Virginia Tech and continues to work to ensure that the national response to university violence remains balanced and appropriately focused. 

A question-and-answer session will conclude the event.

"In addressing the difficulties many of our young people are now facing, we must focus not only on how to help them manage the current challenges, but also attend to the equally important preventative measures,”  said Marianne Schubert, director of the Wake Forest University Counseling Center and an organizer of the conference.  “Parents, schools and the students themselves all have significant roles in that effort.”

Voices of Our Time is an annual guest speaker series that exposes students, the Wake Forest community and the general public to some of the world’s leading thinkers for discussions on the important national and international issues of our time.  It was established in 2006 by Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch.

The event is also sponsored by Wake Forest’s counseling department and the University Counseling Center. 

For more information, visit

Press Contacts:

Cheryl Walker
(336) 758-5237

Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237

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