There is a mental health crisis facing the nation’s colleges, but Woodstock resident Dr. Philip K. McCullough and his daughter Kristen M. Granchalek, a licensed clinical social worker, believe that awareness is a key.

“According to the Chronicles of Higher Education, suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students,” McCullough said.

“My daughter Kristen and I had presented workshops for student services and faculty, and when I looked at all of the material we had, I thought that it would be really easy to compile this into a handbook to give more people access to this information,” McCullough explained.

McCullough, Granchalek and Ripon College Vice President and Dean of Students Chris Ogle did just that.

Their collaboration resulted in the book “Mental Health and the Adaptation to College: A Handbook for Residence Advisors.” It was released in November and is being used at Ripon College with the hope other colleges and universities will adopt it as a resource for residence advisors and faculty.

“The college environment has changed quite a bit – 20 percent of first-year college students already are on medication for attention deficit disorder, depression and anxiety – that is one out of five,” McCullough said. “This is good for colleges because more students have the opportunity to go to college.”

But McCullough feels while the shift is good for academic institutions, it leaves residence advisors and faculty vulnerable and in need of more support and guidance.

“College already is a time of adjustment for young people. Colleges are seeing an increase in suicides on campus. If we could prevent one suicide this would all be worth it,” he continued. “The biggest issue is that while some schools might have workshops for their residence advisors, many schools do not offer any mental health training or any introduction of what to look for or how to communicate with students or respond to them.… We want this handbook to be a resource that is readily accessible.”

The handbook covers topics such as: personal crisis; anxiety disorders and mood disorders along with substance abuse; eating disorders and body image; sexual assault; the emotional health and resilience of LGBTQ students; and suicide and other self-destructive and violent behavior, among other topics.

“Though this book is geared toward residence advisors, it is universally useful. We want to bring an awareness of what to look for, how to talk to the student in crisis and how to gain access to resources whether that be on campus, at emergency services, a crisis line or the ER. We just want to help the 300,000 residence advisors who might not have any training – to put this into their hands and give them support,” McCullough said.

McCullough teaches at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. His daughter Kristen Granchalek, a 2000 graduate of Woodstock High School, is cofounder of Alliance Collaborative Psychotherapy, a private therapy practice that specializes in treating young adults in transition.

“Mental Health and the Adaptation to College: a Handbook for Residence Advisors” is available through Amazon in both paperback and ebook.

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