Date of Award
Director of Thesis
This senior thesis project focused on the problem of mental health on college campuses. Specific interest was placed on students at the University of South Carolina. In the end, the goal was to create a product that could be used by the Counseling and Human Development Center to help increase the use of student mental health services and reduce levels of stigma surrounding mental health problems. In talking with staff members of the Counseling and Human Development Center, staff members shared a desire for a video that would advertise the services of the Counseling Center. Thus, the true purpose of the project came to be. I hoped to write, record, edit, and produce a video that would fulfill a long-existing desire of the Counseling Center.
Before pursuing this project, it was necessary to understand the true breadth of the problem. In performing research about the mental health status of America’s college students, one could truly understand why the goal of this project was worthwhile. A great deal of time was spent understanding what psychopathology looked like on college campuses. At the same time, I hoped to determine whether this issue is something new or something that has existed on college campuses throughout time. Specific focus was placed upon the three highest forms of psychopathology on university campuses: depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. Research provided substantial support for the idea that levels of psychopathology on college campuses have increased significantly in the past few decades. Thus, the driving force behind the project was confirmed.
In an attempt to further understand this increase in instances of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation, I researched hypotheses for what has caused such a drastic shift towards mental illness. While it is impossible to attribute the trend to one singe cause, social science researchers have gained valuable insight into possible causes of the increase. Today’s students are more committed, more worked, and more stressed than students at any point in history (Sharkin, 2006). When combining this with the fact that student loans are at an all-time high and job prospects at a relative low, one can easily understand the mental toll placed upon America’s college students (Sharkin, 2006; “Digest of Education Statistics”, 2012).
Finally, I sought to design an effective, informative health communication campaign that achieved the mutual goals of the project and the Counseling Center. In doing so, I found guidance in the work of the National Cancer Institute’s Making Health Communication Campaigns Work (1989). This brochure is considered a standard in health communications today and was invaluable in helping focus this project. The brochure describes, in detail, the five necessary steps for designing, executing, and evaluating an effective health communication campaign. I ensured that that my project matched all of these steps fully. As a result, I was able to develop a video that, hopefully, will be well utilized by the Counseling Center and will achieve the goals of increasing the utilization of student mental health services and curbing the stigma on the University’s campus.
Deason, Connor, "A Mental Health Epidemic: The Case For Mental Health Programs on College Campuses and How To Increase Awareness" (2014). Senior Theses. 30.