Kathryn Anne Mooneyham
College of Medicine
The Scholars group researching the topic of mental health and substance abuse found that health professionals on campus need more information about the myriad of services available to help those seeking mental health or substance abuse help.
The Presidential Scholars Program is an opportunity for students from all colleges at MUSC, along with students from the Charleston School of Law, to work together on a project to improve the community.
The Scholars are divided into small groups, so that the program promotes interprofessional growth and awareness. I had the privilege of working with a Scholars group that was given the subject, "Mental Health and Substance Abuse."
As my group started to brainstorm about possible community resources and projects, we realized that the majority of us were unaware of many of the resources available in the community. We began to wonder if the rest of the students on campus shared our lack of awareness.
After receiving Institutional Review Board approval, we conducted a campuswide survey on Surveymonkey to assess knowledge of services, to determine whether students believed they could have benefitted from services, and finally to ask why students did not utilize services if they did in fact need them.
Two hundred and seventy-eight students completed the survey, with more than 60 percent of the responses coming from first-or second- year students enrolled in the College of Medicine and College of Health Professions. Most of the students who completed the survey were unaware of the resources available in the Charleston community for those seeking mental health or substance abuse help.
The two services that students were more aware of were Alcoholics Anonymous, 65.3 percent and Counseling and Psychological Services, or CAPS, offered on campus at 53 percent. When asked if they believed they could have benefitted from substance abuse or mental health services, more than half said they did, but cited reasons for not receiving help such as lack of awareness and lack of time.
The members of my group and I find it important that we, as future health care providers, are aware of services to which we can direct our patients, as well as others who we may know on a personal level, who may need community-based support. We hope that our survey will prove the lack of awareness on campus, and that we can begin to increase awareness through our project. We would like to help make students more aware of these services:
Center for Drug and Alcohol Programs (CDAP) at MUSC's Institute of Psychiatry: one of the nation's premier facilities for the treatment of alcohol and substance abuse problems (http://www.muschealth.com/cdap/index.htm)
United Way's 2-1-1 phone service is free and confidential. The volunteers answering the calls are trained to handle a variety of situations and can assist individuals with "food, housing, employment, health care, counseling and more." (http://www.211.org/)
Palmetto Lowcountry Behavioral Health: mental health treatment provider 800-387-0037 (http://www.palmettobehavioralhealth.com/index.html)
Charleston Center: substance abuse treatment at 958-3300
Center for Women: comprehensive women's development center (http://www.c4women.org/who.html)