Mental Health Concerns

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What Is Mental Illness?

Mental illnesses and psychological suffering are conditions that arise out of a complex mix of psychological, social, and biological influences that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning. Mental illness is a broad descriptive category that can include conditions like major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A variety of psychological conditions and mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion, or income. These conditions are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or intelligence, or poor upbringing.
 
The good news about these conditions is that there is a wide variety of treatments available and those treatments are very successful. Most people diagnosed with a mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan. Effective treatment often involves a combination of psychotherapy, medication, and social support. A healthful diet, exercise, and sleep contribute to overall health and wellness and are essential in recovering from these conditions.
 
  • Mental health disorders can strike individuals in the prime of their lives, often during the college years.
  • Without treatment, the consequences of these conditions for the individual and society are staggering: unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, suicide, and wasted lives.
  • The best treatments for these conditions are highly effective; depending on the condition and the treatment, between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life.
  • Early identification and treatment are essential; ensuring access to the treatment and recovery supports accelerates recovery and minimizes further harm.
  • Stigma erodes confidence that theses conditions are real and treatable. All of us cannot afford to allow stigma and a sense of hopelessness to set in and erect attitudinal, structural, and financial barriers to effective treatment and recovery. We must all work to take these barriers down.
                
Science has greatly expanded our understanding and treatment of those struggling with mental illness. Once forgotten in mental institutions, individuals now have a real chance at reclaiming full, productive lives, but only if they have access to the treatments, services, and programs vital to recovery:
 
  • Newer classes of medications and improved psychotherapy protocols can better treat individuals with mental illnesses. Eighty percent of people suffering from bipolar disorder and 65 percent of people with major depression respond quickly to treatment; additionally, 60 percent of people with schizophrenia can be relieved of acute symptoms and learn to manage their environment.
  • The involvement of persons with mental illness and their family members in all aspects of planning, organizing, financing, and implementing delivery of services results in more responsiveness and accountability and far fewer grievances.
  • Students may need to take a medical leave of absence from Wellesley to care for themselves, before they address academics. This often can be a very good decision on the part of students that can allow them the time they need to get better and return.
 
It is important to note that for those students who have recently begun taking a psychiatric medication as treatment for a mental health issue, the positive effects of such medications can take several weeks to notice. For some, more than one medication trial might be necessary before the right treatment approach is settled on. In the interim, a student might be managing mild to severe side effects, and in rare cases, even an increase in symptoms. It is helpful to remember that this process takes time and patience, and that students can be encouraged to stay in close contact with their prescriber in cases where  difficult or highly distressing side effects and symptoms are occurring.
 
You may hear a student reference being “sick”  as an explanation for missed class, late academic work, or decreased performance. It may be the case that a student is indeed suffering from a physical illness, but it is also possible that she is actually struggling with a mental health issue. Students may explain their situation this way in order to protect their privacy. It is important to remember that the Honor Code is a system of mutual trust and respect upon which we base our community, and that asking students for verification of their illness, or probing with too many questions runs the risk of communicating doubt or a lack of faith to a student who is struggling.
 
The following sections describe common mental health concerns that can be particularly challenging for the college-aged student.

Depression

Depression is a common mental health problem that many people experience at one point in their lifetime, and depressive symptoms have impacted most of us at one time or another. It is important to remember that depression exists on a continuum depending on its duration and severity. In its less severe form, depression is a temporary reaction to loss, stress, or life challenges. It can be alleviated through the passage of time and/or the natural healing effects of social support, daily routines, and simple coping strategies like distraction and exercise. In its most serious forms, depression can be accompanied by self-destructive thoughts and intentions as a way to escape from emotional pain. Severe or chronic depression usually requires professional help, and research shows that depression is highly responsive to both psychotherapy and medication.
 
  Symptoms of depression include:
  • Feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness
  • A deep sense of sadness
  • An inability to experience pleasure
  • Irregular eating and sleeping
  • Difficulties with concentration, memory and decision-making
  • Fatigue and social withdrawal
  • Irritation, anxiety and anger

 

What To Do

Avoid

  • Talk to the student in private.
  • Listen carefully and validate the student’s feelings and experiences.
  • Be supportive and express your concern about the situation.
  • Refer the student to the Counseling Service for support.
  • Be willing to consider or offer accommodations (e.g., extension on a paper or exam), if appropriate, as a way to alleviate stress.
  • Ignoring the student.
  • Downplaying the situation.
  • Telling the student that if she puts her mind to it, she can “snap out of it.”
  • Providing too much information for the student to process.
  • Expecting the student to stop feeling depressed without intervention.
  • Assuming anyone knows about the student’s depression.

 

 

Suicidality

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students, killing more young people between the ages of 18 and 24 than all physical illnesses combined. Academic, financial, and social pressures can overshadow the quest for knowledge that can lead to a life of achievement, fulfillment, and happiness. Suicide attempts are often triggered by losses of important relationships or losses related to the hopes and expectations of the students, their families, or their communities.
 
Suicidal behavioral states are time limited. Suicidal thoughts occur when a path leading to a tolerable existence does not appear to be available. During the crisis, a person’s coping mechanisms are suspended. The rise in energy during the crisis, although signified by emotional turmoil, also can lead to the information, insight, and motivation necessary to resolve the conflict. Some students who contemplate killing themselves have a mental illness and some do not. A percentage of completed suicides and suicide attempts are impulsive.
 
Students who are vulnerable to suicidal states may be more at risk during college years. Away from home, isolated from familiar support systems and experiencing pressure to perform, these students may become overwhelmed and begin to feel hopeless about their present situation or future. Major mental illnesses can develop during a person’s early 20s; a student who is unaware of the cause of her new-found symptoms may turn to suicide to end the confusion and pain.
 
A student may be contemplating suicide if she is ruminating about suicide and becoming increasingly isolated. Individuals are more at risk for suicide if there is a history of suicidality or major depression in their family or if they have had previous attempts. Additionally, students are at more immediate risk if they have a specific plan for suicide. Students are more likely to act on their hopeless feelings while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A suicide note, email, video, or web page (e.g., on Facebook) should be considered as very worrisome, spurring faculty members to make an urgent referral.
 
Warning signs may include:
  • stress due to loss, illness, financial instability, academic difficulty
  • loss of interest in academics, missing class or assignments, failing exams
  • inability to concentrate
  • isolation, withdrawal from others and their support
  • deterioration in hygiene
  • change in eating or sleeping habits
  • presence of a plan to harm self
  • specific means available to carry out the plan
 
People who contemplate suicide are often ambivalent about killing themselves and are often willing to get help through counseling when a faculty member facilitates the process for them. Cryptic or indirect messages left by students should not be ignored. Some students who are severely depressed do not have the emotional energy to seek help and use cryptic messages to reach out, i.e., “I won’t be bothering you much longer,” “It’ll all soon be over,” or “Time is running out.” Students who are feeling suicidal are often relieved when someone finally asks them, “Are you thinking of killing yourself?” They no longer have to struggle with their feelings alone. Asking them if they are suicidal will not “put the thought” into their head. Students who are suicidal are helped by counseling and sometimes medication. Some may be hospitalized for a short time to enable medications to take effect, to ensure their safety in the short run, and to help them connect with resources to deal with the issues they face. If you are concerned about immediate threats to safety, call Campus Police at 781-283-5555.
 

What To Do

Avoid

  • Talk to the student in private.
  • Remain calm and stay in control.
  • Take the student’s disclosure as a serious plea for help.
  • Express care and concern, and assure the student that you will help her reach a professional.
  • Escort the student to the Counseling Service if during business hours. Call ahead (781-283-2839) to alert staff members.
  • Call Campus Police (781-283-5555) for assistance after-hours, or during the day if you are concerned about immediate threat to the student’s safety.
  • Minimizing the situation. All threats need to be considered potentially lethal.
  • Arguing with the student about the merits of living.
  • Allowing friends to assume responsibility for the student without getting input from a professional.
  • Assuming that asking a student about suicidal thoughts will “put ideas in her head.”
  • Assuming family or anyone  else knows that the student has suicidal thoughts.

 

Self-Injury

Self-injury is sometimes called “deliberate self-harm,” “self-mutilation,” “cutting,” or “non-suicidal self-injury.” Self-injury typically refers to a variety of behaviors in which an individual intentionally inflicts harm to his or her body for purposes not socially recognized or sanctioned and without suicidal intent. Self-injury can include a variety of behaviors but is most commonly associated with intentional carving or cutting of the skin, subdermal tissue scratching, burning, ripping or pulling skin or hair, swallowing toxic substances, self- bruising, and breaking bones.
 
Detecting and intervening in self-injurious behavior can be difficult since the practice is often secretive and involves body parts that are relatively easy to hide. Unexplained burns, cuts, scars, or other clusters of similar markings on the skin can be signs of self-injurious behavior. Other signs include: inappropriate dress for season (consistently wearing long sleeves or pants in summer), constant use of wristbands/coverings, unwillingness to participate in activities that require less body coverage (such as swimming or gym class), frequent bandages, odd or unexplainable paraphernalia (e.g., razor blades or other implements that could be used to cut or pound), and heightened signs of depression or anxiety.
 
Many people find it hard to grasp why someone would want to intentionally hurt themselves, and therefore self-injury can seem frightening and leave people unsure how to respond. The intensely private and shameful feelings associated with self-injury prevent many from seeking treatment. However, concern for their well-being is often what many who self-injure most need.

 

What To Do

Avoid

  • Create a safe environment; ask non-threatening and emotionally neutral questions about the self-injury.
  • Tell the student you’ve noticed the (behavior/symptom) and ask them about it.
  • If a student discloses they have self-injured, listen to them and attempt to understand their perspective.
  • Be supportive and maintain a nonjudgmental attitude.
  • Don’t tell the student to stop the self-harming behavior; they probably would if they could, and this may make them feel worse about themselves or less likely to talk to you.
  • Ask if they have other coping skills that work for them.
  • Encourage them to seek counseling.
  • Displaying shock or showing great pity.
  • Understand that evasive responses from those engaging in self-injury are common, as shame can be extreme for them.
  • Assuming that obvious signs of injury are self-inflicted; they may also be indicate of something else, such as relationship violence, or the result of an accident.

 

 

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is an illness that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, and functioning, often fluctuating between periods of depression and manic or hypomanic symptoms. These changes may be subtle or dramatic and typically vary greatly over the course of a person’s life. Bipolar symptoms often begin in adolescence and early adulthood, and the disorder typically requires professional treatment for alleviation of symptoms.
 
Symptoms of mania include:
  • Elated, happy mood or an irritable, angry unpleasant mood
  • Increased physical and mental activity and energy
  • Racing thoughts and flight of ideas
  • Ambitious, often grandiose plans
  • Risk-taking
  • Impulsive activity such as spending sprees, sexual indiscretion and alcohol abuse
  • Decreased sleep without remaining fatigued
  • Hypersexuality or sexual statements
  • Extreme agitation or aggressive behavior
  • On occasion, psychotic symptoms including paranoia, hallucinations or delusions, especially of a paranoid or grandiose nature
 
Symptoms of  the depressed phase:
  • Loss of energy
  • Prolonged sadness
  • Decreased activity and energy
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • Increased feelings of worry and anxiety
  • Less interest or participation in, and less enjoyment of, activities normally enjoyed
  • Feelings of guilt and hopelessness
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Change in appetite or sleep patterns

 

What To Do

Avoid

  • Talk to the student privately.
  • Remain calm and assume control in a soothing manner.
  • Focus on relevant information and speak concretely.
  • Encourage the student to reach out to campus resources to create an action plan.
  • Refer the student to the Counseling Service.
  • Ask questions like: “When I’m stressed I talk things over with people. Who do you have to talk things over with? Have you ever met with a counselor at the Counseling Service before?”
  • Overwhelming the student with information or complicated solutions.
  • Arguing with irrational thoughts.
  • Talking too quickly.
  • Assuming the student will get over bipolar disorder without treatment.
  • Assuming the family, or anyone else, knows about the students’ condition.

 

Anxiety

Anxiety is a natural response to stress, though can grow problematic and/or chronic when a student perceives stressors as overwhelming and threatening and that she lacks the adequate resources to manage them. Anxiety can be of a general nature, a reaction to specific situations/triggers such as with social anxiety and phobias, or part of a larger syndrome such as with obsessive-compulsive disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder.
 
Symptoms of generalized anxiety include:
  • Agitation
  • Panic
  • Avoidance
  • Irrational fears
  • Fear of losing control
  • Ruminations (repetitive thoughts about distress and its causes)
  • Excessive worry
  • Sleep or eating problems
 
A panic attack is an acute reaction to a stressor. While an initial panic attack often has an identifiable trigger, subsequent ones can feel spontaneous and unexplained, and the fear of having a panic attack can itself trigger panic for someone who has once experienced it. A panic attack typically lasts about 10 minutes, but may be shorter.  During the attack, the physical and emotional symptoms increase quickly in a crescendo-like way and then subside. A person may feel anxious and jittery for many hours afterward.
 
Symptoms of a panic attack include:
  • Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Sensations of shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of dying
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Numbness
 
A phobia is a fear response to a specific trigger or situation, often accompanied by mild to severe panic symptoms. There are several types of phobias:
  • Specific phobia: Unreasonable fear of specific circumstances or objects
  • Social phobia
: Extreme fear of looking foolish or stupid on social occasions or in public areas
  • Agoraphobia: An intense fear of being trapped in a situation, especially in unfamiliar surroundings, and subsequently having a panic attack
 
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by recurrent obsessions and/or compulsions that interfere substantially with how a person functions. Obsessions are intrusive, irrational thoughts—unwanted ideas or impulses that repeatedly well up in a person’s mind. Again and again, the person experiences disturbing thoughts, such as “My hands must be contaminated; I must wash them” or “I may have left the door unlocked.” The person may be ruled by numbers, fear she will harm others, or be concerned with body imperfections. On one level, the sufferer knows these obsessive thoughts are irrational. But on another level, she fears these thoughts might be true. Trying to avoid such thoughts creates greater anxiety.
 
Compulsions are repetitive rituals such as hand washing, counting, checking, hoarding, or arranging. An individual repeats these actions in attempts to reduce the anxiety brought on by obsessions. People with OCD feel they must perform these compulsive rituals or something bad will happen. Most people occasionally have obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors. OCD occurs when the obsessions or compulsions are severe enough to cause serious distress, be time-consuming (compulsions occurring more than an hour each day), and interfere with daily functioning.

 

What To Do

Avoid

  • Talk to the student privately.
  • Remain calm and assume control in a soothing manner.
  • Focus on relevant information and speak concretely.
  • Encourage the student to reach out to campus resources to create an action plan.
  • Refer the student to the Counseling Center Service.
  • Ask questions like: “When I’m stressed I talk things over with people; who do you have to talk things over with? Have you ever met with a counselor at the Counseling Service before?”
  • Overwhelming the student with information or complicated solutions.
  • Arguing with irrational thoughts.
  • Talking too quickly.
  • Assuming the student will get over the anxiety without treatment.

 

 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Living through any traumatic event, such as a natural disaster (e.g., a hurricane, flood), physical abuse, sexual assault, war or a severe car crash can trigger feelings of helplessness and fear, sometimes leading to an anxiety disorder called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
 
Symptoms of PTSD include:
  • Intrusive thoughts, memories or bad dreams about the event
  • Feeling anxious, guilty, and/or depressed
  • Feeling numb
  • Withdrawal from significant relationships
  • Replaying of the experience over and over in the person’s mind
  • Sleep problems
  • “Self-medication” with drugs or alcohol

 

What To Do

Avoid

  • Listen without conveying judgment.
  • Listen without inserting your emotions into the conversation.
  • Know that survivors of trauma often struggle with excessive feelings of shame and guilt.
  • Refer the student to the Counseling Service.
  • Expressing judgment even when high risk behaviors on the part of the student are involved (walking alone at night, excessive drinking).
  • Insisting that the student seek immediate help.
  • Assuming anyone else knows about the students’ condition.

 

 

Eating and Body Image Concerns

It is important to remember that struggles with eating and body image (both behaviors and attitudes) exist on a spectrum, which typically only meet criteria for an eating disorder when on the extreme  end. Eating disorders arise from a combination of psychological, interpersonal and sociocultural factors and have serious emotional, mental and medical consequences. Depression and anxiety often accompany eating disorders.
 
Characteristics of anorexia nervosa include severe restriction of food intake, refusal to maintain minimally normal weight, intense fear of weight and fat, and obsessive focus on weight as a basis of self-worth.
 
Characteristics of bulimia include excessive concern with body weight/shape and recurrent episodes of binge eating and “purging” behaviors such as self induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or diet pills, fasting, or excessive exercise.
 
Binge-eating/compulsive overeating involves impulsive eating, independent of appetite, without purging behaviors.
 
Symptoms of disordered eating and/or eating disorders include:
  • Significant disturbance in the perception of body shape and weight
  • Marked decrease/increase in weight
  • Perfectionism, self critical thoughts and attitudes
  • Food restriction or purging behaviors
  • Irritability, moodiness
  • Change in attitude and/or performance
  • Fatigue, dizziness
  • Excessive exercising
  • Social withdrawal

 

What To Do

Avoid

  • Talk to the student privately.
  • Be supportive and express concern for the student’s health and wellbeing.
  • Refer the student to the Health Center and/or the Counseling Center.
  • Consult with a professional at the Health or Counseling Service for further advice if you think the situation is urgent.
  • Focusing on weight rather than health and effective functioning.
  • Judging the student’s behaviors or labeling them.
  • Recommending solutions like “just eat healthy” or “accept yourself.”
  • Getting into a battle of wills. If the student is resisting your efforts, restate your concerns and leave the door open for further conversations.
  • Assuming that anyone else knows about the eating issues.

 

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is an illness characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. The most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder in young persons, ADHD affects an estimated 3 to 5 percent of young people. Although ADHD is usually diagnosed in childhood, it is not limited to children—ADHD often persists into adolescence and adulthood and is frequently not diagnosed until later years. There are actually three types of ADHD, each with different symptoms: predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive/impulsive, and combined. The most common type of ADHD has a combination of the inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive symptoms.
 
Those with the predominantly inattentive type often:
  • fail to pay close attention to details or make careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities
  • have difficulty sustaining attention to tasks or leisure activities
  • do not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • do not follow through on instructions and fail to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace
  • have difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  • avoid, dislike, or are reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort
  • lose things necessary for tasks or activities
  • are easily distracted by extraneous stimuli and are forgetful in daily activities
 
Those with the predominantly hyperactive/impulsive type often:
  • fidget with their hands or feet or squirm in their seat
  • leave their seat when remaining seated is expected
  • move excessively or feel restless during situations in which such behavior is inappropriate
  • have difficulty engaging in leisure activities quietly
  • talk excessively and blurt out answers before questions have been completed
  • have difficulty awaiting their turn and interrupt others
 
ADHD is not caused by dysfunctional parenting nor a lack of intelligence or discipline. Strong scientific evidence supports the conclusion that ADHD is a biologically based disorder. The most proven treatments for ADHD are medication and behavioral therapy.

 

What To Do

Avoid

  • Understand that ADHD is a challenging disorder that often causes distress, shame, and anxiety for those afflicted.
  • Know that ADHD is extremely challenging to manage without structured support and treatment.
  • Ask the student whether she has academic accommodations in place to support her and help her come up with a detailed plan for how to implement these in her academic work and in regard to classroom expectations (e.g., many students with diagnosed ADHD will need extra time or private rooms for exams).
  • If the student has not already made contact, refer her to the Counseling Service and Disability Services for education about evaluation and treatment options, as well as accommodations available to those with a confirmed ADHD diagnosis.
  • Assuming that academic struggles are due to “laziness” or immaturity, or that the student just needs to work harder. Remember that the Honor Code is a system of mutual trust and respect upon which we base our community.
  • Assuming that the student has already been diagnosed or knows that she has options for evaluation and treatment open to her.

 

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism Spectrum Disorders include what have been formerly known as Asperger’s Disorder and Autistic Disorder. Asperger’s Disorder, as it was previously known, is a neurological disorder often referred to as High Functioning Autism. Individuals with Asperger’s Disorder often have unusually strong, narrow interests and average to superior intellect. Many students with Asberger’s Disorder will not self-identify and of those who do, not all will require formal classroom accommodation. Individuals with Asberger’s Disorder are most comfortable with predictable routine; conversely they may be quite disturbed by changes in familiar and expected routines, whether in or outside the classroom. While everyone is different, students with Asberger’s Disorder may exhibit deficits in one or more domains of language and communication, social interaction, and behavior. Some individuals will also have associated conditions.
 
Common characteristics of individuals with Asberger’s Disorder are:
 
Language/communication:
  • very literal—doesn’t understand metaphors, idioms, hyperbole
  • doesn’t get jokes, nuance, subtleties of language
  • uses odd phrases
  • doesn’t understand gestures, facial expressions, or voice tones/inflection
  • difficulty modulating own voice (often loud)
  • difficulty understanding instructions (but may appear to understand)
  • talks about what s/he knows, usually facts
 
Social interaction:
  • difficulty making eye contact
  • seems distant or detached
  • finds it difficult to make friends, prefers to spend time alone
  • difficulty initiating, maintaining, and ending a conversation
  • doesn’t understand social norms, mores, cues, or concept of personal space
  • doesn’t understand other people’s emotions
  • difficulty managing own emotions
 
Behavior:
  • interrupts the speaker; attempts to monopolize conversation
  • becomes tangential in answering questions
  • engages in self-stimulating behavior (rocking, tapping, playing with “stress toys”)
  • poor self care (eating, sleeping, appearance, or hygiene)
  • rigid fixation on certain concepts, objects, patterns, actions (e.g., music, art, math, science)
  • reactions to sensory assaults; unable to filter out offensive lights, sounds, smells, tastes, touch
  • may be argumentative
  • stalking behavior
 
When in distress, a student with Asberger’s Disorder may miss classes or assignments and then not communicate about those absences or missed work. The student may appear agitated or anxious and become argumentative or exhibit angry outbursts. Some students may appear more disheveled and engage in self-soothing behaviors.

 

What To Do

Avoid

  • Provide advance notice when changes/transitions are anticipated in class.
  • Allow for one or more short breaks in classes that are longer than 50 minutes.
  • Take the time to assist the student with understanding assignments and academic expectations.
  • Consider allowing the student to work alone for assignments that are normally done in groups.
  • If inappropriate behavior occurs, address it in private. Describe the behavior and desired change as well as logical consequences if it continues.
  • Ask the student how she would prefer you to address behavioral issues in class. For example, establish a cue to use when the student is monopolizing class time that will remind the student to stop the behavior. Students with Asberger’s Disorder often don’t realize when they are being disruptive.
  • Assuming the student understands the social and interpersonal impact of her behavior.
  • Placing unreasonable expectations on a student who struggles with social interaction (e.g., group projects).
  • Engaging in attempts to talk the student out of certain behaviors.
  • Assuming that a student with Asberger’s Disorder who misses class does not care about her academic work.

 

Psychosis/Schizophrenia

In rare cases, students with an underlying predisposition to disordered thinking may begin to exhibit bizarre or irrational thinking and/or behavior, especially when stressed. The college years are a time when first “psychotic breaks” can occur for those with an underlying genetic predisposition to psychosis. In some cases, severe depression and mania can be accompanied by bizarre and psychotic thinking.
 
The main feature of psychotic thinking is poor reality testing or “being out of touch with reality.” Schizophrenia often has an onset between late teens and early 30’s and involves psychotic features that often interfere with a person’s ability to think clearly, distinguish reality from fantasy, manage emotions, make decisions, and relate to others.
 
Symptoms of psychosis include:
  • Disorganized speech and behavior
  • Extremely odd or eccentric behavior
  • Inappropriate or complete lack of emotion
  • Bizarre behavior that could indicate hallucinations
  • Strange beliefs that involve a serious misinterpretation of reality
  • Social withdrawal
  • Inability to connect with or track normal communication

 

What To Do

Avoid

  • Speak to the student in a direct and calm manner about getting her to a safe environment.
  • Recognize that psychotic states can involve extreme emotion or lack of emotion and intense fear to the point of paranoia.
  • Recognize that a student in this state may be dangerous to self or others.
  • If the student is highly impaired contact Campus Police, who will escort her to the Counseling Service or directly to the hospital.
  • Assuming the student will be able to care for herself.
  • Arguing with unrealistic thoughts.
  • Allowing friends to care for the student without getting professional advice.
  • Assuming anyone else, including family, knows about the students’ condition.

 

 

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Debra DeMeis
Debra DeMeis
Dean of Students More

 

 

Contact Us

Office of the Dean of Students
 


Green Hall 344
Wellesley College
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481

Ann Cronin
Executive Assistant
Tel: 781.283.2322
acronin@wellesley.edu