UTC hosts mental health expert as need increases nationwide - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UTC hosts mental health expert as need increases nationwide

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The University of Tennessee Chattanooga hosted a national expert on mental health Thursday evening. Ross Szabo travels the country in an effort to change the stigma.

"We teach physical health from age five though the rest of your life and we only teach mental health after somebody already has a problem,” Szabo said.

“It’s too late. We have to be preventative. We have to design programs that help people talk about it before that point."

At age 16, Szabo, a high school athlete and highly involved teenager, was diagnosed as "bipolar with anger control problems and psychotic features." Szabo wrote a book and developed a curriculum called “Behind Happy Faces.” More than 80,000 students are using the curriculum in America. In addition, he has a partnership with the NCAA to help student-athletes understand how to prevent the most serious effects.

A recent Wall Street Journal article documented the increase in students using mental health centers. It is the highest in history. Mental health includes ADHD, anxiety, depression, and other treatable conditions.

UTC spokesperson Chuck Cantrell says they have seen more students seeking help in recent years. The university offers counseling and is trying to expand its mental health services to keep with demand, according to Cantrell.    

“In my experience college administrations do care about the issue of mental health, but are worried about how to respond,” Szabo said in a blog published on Huffington Post.

“In some ways administrators are handcuffed to respond to mental health issues, because they are worried about liability.”

Szabo was Director of Outreach for the National Mental Health Awareness Campaign. He was awarded the 2010 Didi Hirsch Erasing the Stigma Leadership Award. He later joined the Peace Corps, working in Botswana.

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