Stock photoHealthy Minds, a survey designed to determine the mental health needs across campus is being distributed among Cal Poly students starting this week. Nearly 25 percent of students are being asked to serve as a representation; after the first week, 26 percent of the students have completed the survey.
Elie Axelroth, head of counseling at the Health Center, said there has been a recent concern about the mental health of college students.
Cal Poly will compare the results to other schools around the country. The survey allows each school to add 10 questions specific to the school. Those questions will not stand out on the survey due to the potential of compromising the results.
“It would be great to get a picture of what is really going on,” Axelroth said.
The survey is conducted annually by the University of Michigan and a Michigan survey group. Participants will be entered to win a number of prizes donated by the community including an iPod, gift certificates from New Frontiers and dining facilities on campus as well as a gift basket from Trader Joe’s. The Michigan entities have also contributed a combined $4,000 in cash prizes.
On Feb. 1, the first round of e-mails requesting student participation in the survey were sent to the 4,000 students chosen randomly by the registrar; they will receive a few reminders in the coming weeks. Healthy Minds conducts the survey independently of Cal Poly. Each week Axelroth will be updated on the number of people who have completed the survey.
The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete. The questions revolve around demographics and characteristics, mental health status, lifestyle and health-related behaviors, awareness of and attitudes toward mental health treatment, use of mental health services, barriers and facilitators to mental health services, academic environment and social support.
Axelroth sees the benefits of the need for a large sample of students.
“The Healthy Minds Study wants to increase their databank, which helps us all,” Axelroth said. “It does seem that students are in distress.”
When the data collection finishes in April, the Healthy Minds Study group will analyze the data and return a report of the data to Cal Poly during the summer.
With these results, Axelroth said, Cal Poly, specifically the Health Center, will be able to see what areas surrounding mental health need to be improved but also what areas students are “flourishing” in.
Axelroth said she wants to be supportive of the whole student, whether that includes mental health issues or not.
“As human beings we tend to be scared of what we don’t know, in this case mental health,” Axelroth said.
Axelroth cited depression as one example of mental illness.
“A depressed student has trouble concentrating, getting out of bed in the morning and memory (problems). But depression is very treatable,” Axelroth said.
Depression can be enhanced by certain activities that go on in the college atmosphere, for example, alcohol consumption.
“There is a lot of drinking going on, and that is a depressant,” computer engineering junior Ryan Dehaven said.
There are 28 schools participating this year nationwide, including five from California: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and Pomona, California State University, Fullerton, San Diego Sate University and Stanford University.