On Campus: The Doctors Are ‘In’

Rhonda Venable’s first appointment last Monday was with a severely depressed sophomore who’s worried he’s too promiscuous. After the session, Venable, associate director of Vanderbilt University’s counseling center, met with a bipolar teenager, assessed an anxious student for signs of schizophrenia and arranged emergency hospitalization for an upperclassman threatening suicide. “It was very much an ordinary day,” says Venable.Long gone are the sleepy college counseling centers of decades past where therapists administered career-aptitude tests and offered tip sheets for handling roommate conflicts. Today, acknowledging their role on the front lines of the teen-depression crisis, counselors and psychologists at the nation’s colleges and universities are doing more to try to help the rising numbers of students they see with clinical depression and other acute mental illnesses.

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