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New podcast series focuses on student mental health

The American Psychological Association found that more than 60% of college students met the criteria for at least one mental health program based on its Healthy Mind survey, which included the University of Utah.

And earlier this year, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy called for action to address what he described as an “epidemic of loneliness.”  Loneliness, isolation and lack of social connection is a public health crisis, he said, experienced by about half the adults in the U.S., with impacts on physical and mental health. This is especially true among college-age people, the report said.

Such findings are no surprise to the experts on the U campus.

Focus on Student Mental Health, a five-part podcast series, looks at the most common mental health challenges for college students, including stress, anxiety, depression, relationships and social connections. It also provides information about effective strategies and resources available for students, from individual counseling to skills workshops and where to turn for help in a crisis.

“We have known for a while that students have been dealing with increased mental health challenges and this certainly was the case pre-pandemic and it continues to be the case,” Scott McAward, executive director of the University Counseling Center, said in a U Rising interview. “Although the physical isolation that came with the pandemic has in most ways resolved, there are certainly lingering effects. The idea of students’ sense of belonging or more importantly, lack of, remains a significant piece of our students’ experience. On that same healthy mind survey, over 60% reported feeling isolated from others often or some of the time.”

The series was produced in collaboration with, Student Affairs and the University Counseling Center.

“In Student Affairs, we recognize the profound impact unaddressed mental health needs can have on students’ academic success,” said Sherra’ Watkins, associate vice president of student health and wellness. ” This partnership has provided us the opportunity to amplify expert advice from mental health professionals and provide our students with valuable information and resources, enhancing both their overall well-being and academic journey at the U.”

Here is an overview of each episode:

  • A primer: Episode 1 starts with the basics: What is good mental health and why is it crucial to your success as a college student? Christina Kelly LeCluyse, a clinical social worker with the University Counseling Center, talks about the challenges of anxiety, depression and relationships faced by many students. This overview sets the stage for more detailed discussions about mental wellness.
  • Anxiety: In episode 2, Amber Whiteley, a staff psychologist with the University Counseling Center, explores how anxiety differs from common stressors faced by students. Learn how to identify and manage anxiety, turning a common college challenge into an opportunity for growth and resilience.
  • Depression: Keri Frantell, a licensed psychologist at University of Utah Counseling Center, provides a comprehensive look at depression in college life in episode 3. Learn how to recognize the signs of depression, understand its underlying causes and take actionable steps to better mental health.
  • Relationships: In episode 4 of the series, Roberto Martinez, the center’s associate director for clinical services and a therapist, talks about navigating the complexities of college relationships. From identifying signs of unhealthy dynamics to building healthy connections, explore how relationships impact student well-being, how to set boundaries, engage in effective communication and nurture positive interactions.
  • Resources: Claudia Navarro, director of clinical services at the center, highlights the many resources available to students struggling with mental health in the final episode of the series, from traditional one-on-one counseling to workshops, support groups and other resources.