#1799. New Directions for Student Services: College Student Mental Health. (2017) Levine, Heidi & Stock, Susan R. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 110 pp. $25.00, 978-1-1193-5921-0
College of Arts & Sciences Advising
University of Louisville
In a recent survey at a Midwestern university, one third of students reported some form of mental health problems (Levine & Stock, 2017, p. 20). College student mental health is not just the purview of student counseling centers, but is an issue that impacts all university staff. Due to the increase in student mental health needs and the lack of resources for student affairs practitioners interested in mental health, Levine and Stock wrote this book for the benefit of practitioners who are not trained/licensed counselors.
The first chapter identifies the need for increased training among student affairs staff. The chapters delineate different mental health issues on campus and identifies anxiety and depression as the most prevalent among college students. Eating disorders are identified as having the highest mortality rates on campuses. The authors recommend that all staff need to be cognizant of student mental health issues and able to identify signs of a mental health issue.
Several chapters address mental health issues among international students and students on the autism spectrum. With available treatments, many students on the autism spectrum are attending college, where in the past they would not have attended. University personnel need to pay particular attention to mental health issues encountered by these students. Many students with autism don’t know what stress feels like and often misinterpret it as an illness and go to campus health rather than the counseling center (p. 33). There are also considerations for autistic students in student discipline. Staff need to be able to distinguish between an autistic student engaged in self- stimulation and a student experiencing a psychotic episode. There is also a need to acquire a better understanding of international student acculturation and the stress accompanying the process. Studies found that stress among international students is related to country of origin and English language proficiency. European students reported the least amount of acculturative stress. International students who interacted more with American students also reported less stress (p. 56-57).
Later chapters address campus crisis response and mental health as a retention barrier. The authors advocate crisis response based on the population exposure model. The model identifies five groups affected by a campus crisis: the injured/victims, witnesses, family/friends, responders, and community (p. 77). Studies have shown that the development of PTSD begins the same day as the event, manifesting initially as acute stress disorder and developing into PTSD. In addressing mental health as a barrier, many retention strategies do not focus on mental health issues and the authors advocate the adoption of resilience as a strategy for persistence. The authors advocate incorporating resilience into academic advising. The most important contribution is the assertion that failure should be normalized as part of the learning process (p. 92). Currently, minimal attention is devoted to dealing with failure and the growing/learning experience associated with failure.
This book has many implications for advising practice. The most important implication is the growing prevalence of mental health issues/concerns among college students. The need to introduce and normalize failure as a learning experience offers another excellent direction for advising practice. Advisors can use instances of failure to help students learn and employ coping strategies. Finally, the recommendations on autistic students and international students are very important and provides another topic of discussion for advisors when meeting with these populations. All advisors can benefit from this book.