Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Vital Organizations Supporting College Mental Health

There is a lot of variety in this field in terms of represented professional disciplines and organizations.  This is both a strength and political weakness at times.  More on that subject later.  I will focus here on three organizations which I believe are of fundamental significance to the prosperity and growth of college mental health.  Anyone interested in this field would do well to become acquainted with all these organizations have to offer.

International Association of Counseling Services, Inc. www.iacsinc.org
IACS is an accreditation agency which has developed, in my opinion, the most comprehensive set of standards in this field.  College mental health services of all kinds would do well to aspire to and achieve accreditation.  Among other things, being accredited is evidence of best practices and benchmarks centers against other facilities nationwide.  It is also is central to the pursuit of improved resourcing and status in the academic community.

Association of University and College Counseling Center Directors www.aucccd.org
AUCCCD is a community of center administrators which provides a wonderful annual conference and an equally impressive listserv.  These vehicles provide many networking and consultative opportunities which are essential to the development of professionals and resources.  The listserv in particular provides nearly instantaneous feedback and support for the challenging questions and situations which arise in this work.  New administrators are especially benefited by the wide range of wisdom, expertise and support this organization provides.  More recently AUCCCD is undertaking prospects of becoming politically active on behalf of those involved in college mental health, as there is simply no single entity effectively representing the field at this time.

Center for Collegiate Mental Health www.ccmh.squarespace.com
CCMH is an entity housed at Penn State Unversity which serves as a data collection repository and conducts extensive research into the mental health of college students in the United States.  It employs standardized data sets collected from 173 college counseling centers across the nation.  The development of CCMH is an extremely significant milestone in the history of college mental health.  Two annual reports have been produced thus far, representing the early stages of research development.  Soon it will be possible to provide comprehensive, real-time data concerning the well-being of and issues faced by students.  This will be enormously helpful in terms of addressing nationwide, regional and local comparisons in order to improve services, and in terms of correcting media depictions of these issues which are often erroneous and harmful.  Centers ought to seriously consider becoming a member of CCMH and utilizing the resources involved.

While there are other organizations involved in some way with college mental health, these are most essential in my opinion.  Check out their web materials to learn more.