New Approach to Help Bruins in Distress
UCLA continues to increase its commitment to understanding and supporting mental health. In this article Dr. Richard LeBeau discusses STAND, a new resource for Bruins to screen, track, and treat anxiety and depression during their time at UCLA.
Dr. Richard LeBeau is a graduate of UCLA’s Clinical Psychology doctoral program and is the Associate Director of Clinical Services for the UCLA Depression Grand Challenge’s Innovative Treatment Network. Additionally, he conducts clinical research as an Assistant Project Scientist in the UCLA Department of Psychology.
A recent survey of U.S. college students revealed that, during the 2018-2019 academic year, three out of five students reported experiencing overwhelming anxiety and two out of five described themselves as too depressed to function. The results reflect an alarming trend that has seen a 65% increase in psychiatric diagnoses among U.S. college students in the past decade. Students with depression and anxiety do not just struggle emotionally; they also are more likely to have physical health problems, poor social relationships, fail courses, drop out of college, and consider suicide.
UCLA is committed to helping students thrive so that they can get the most out of their college experiences. For this reason, UCLA explores new and creative ways to provide support. An example of such a resource is the Screening and Treatment for Anxiety & Depression (STAND) program, available to the entire UCLA student population through a campus-funded research initiative. STAND is a system of care and participation begins when a student visits the online Mental Health Tracker screening tool, a five-minute self-reported survey measuring depression, suicidality, and anxiety symptoms. Students receive immediate personalized feedback based on their responses and are seamlessly connected to the appropriate services and level of treatment for their symptoms:
How Bruins Can Get Started with STAND
1. Create an account through the STAND website.
2. Take five minutes to complete the Mental Health Tracker survey.
3. Immediately access services personalized for specific symptoms.
- Limited or No Symptoms. Students with limited or no symptoms receive access to our system of care, which periodically tracks their symptoms through surveys and other means. If symptoms emerge or increase, the student receives immediate services and priority to enter treatment.
- Mild or Moderate Symptoms. Students with mild or moderate symptoms receive treatment through online, research-based psychological therapies, with support from certified coaches under the supervision of expert clinicians. The course of treatment lasts six weeks and is accessible on demand from the comfort and the privacy of the student’s own space.
- Severe Symptoms. Students with severe symptoms are offered in-person clinical care through research-supported psychological therapy following specific protocols that influence the type and frequency of treatment. This clinical care is provided by an integrated psychology and psychiatry clinical team who are able to ensure top-notch and consistent care, along with medication management as appropriate.
- Suicide Risk. If a student’s responses indicate a risk for suicide, an automatic alert system is triggered and UCLA commences proactive outreach to bring the student into treatment for severe symptoms. Participants with all types of symptoms are continuously monitored for suicide risk.
The treatments described above are free for students (although insurance may be billed for medications if prescribed by STAND). These include continuous monitoring of symptoms and treatment response, proactive outreach to individuals exhibiting signs of suicide risk, and continuous calibration of treatment, moving participants to the most appropriate level of care for their symptoms. The STAND team works closely with other campus units including Counseling and Psychological Services, the Arthur Ashe Student Health & Wellness Center, the Dashew Center for International Students & Scholars, the LGBTQ Resource Center, and others, facilitating participants’ connections with academic support, financial services, and legal services as needed.
STAND is a part of the UCLA Depression Grand Challenge (DGC), through which the campus is leading an effort to cut the global burden of depression in half by 2050. The DGC is committed to identify new approaches to prevent, diagnose, and treat depression. STAND was developed to demonstrate that digital technology can be leveraged to develop and implement a system that screens for depression and related conditions, quickly provides those who suffer to evidence-based treatments tailored to their needs, and continuously tracks their clinical course. It is the first system of its kind. A core value of the DGC team is a focus on continuous improvement; researchers conduct rigorous assessments on the data collected from STAND participants to document and further expand the impact of the system of care.
As parents, there are many times where it may be difficult to know how to best help your student. If you think your student may be in distress, remind them that reaching out for help is a sign of strength and self-awareness. The DGC has designed STAND to easily fit into busy Bruins’ lives—it is open to all students, free of charge, easily accessible online, and has a minimal wait time. Join us in encouraging them to keep their mental health a priority, thereby better positioning them to thrive in their studies and outside interests.