“Depressed: Get Out” Life in the College Breakdown Lane

For twenty six years, Spruce Mountain Inn has offered a life line for college kids who, due to a perfect storm of circumstances, have crashed and burned in college. The stress of the transition, loss of support systems, social difficulties, learning difficulties, substance abuse and the onset or exacerbation of mental health issues leave a significant number of young adults unable to make it in college.

Colleges are ill prepared to provide adequate support for the plethora of special needs of some students and become driven by their concerns over liability. Students may be abruptly terminated from school, in often humiliating and costly fashion, with no support plans in place. Since they have been forced to leave school with incompletes and/or failing grades, there are many barriers to returning or transferring.

Spruce Mountain Inn has seen many of these young adults for treatment and “a new start” following a mental health crisis in school. Our Vocational/Educational Coordinator since 1986, Teri Lawrence, M.Ed. , has assiduously assisted our clients in petitioning for retroactive withdrawals on their college transcripts. Teri’s persistence and belief in our clients’ rights to an education despite sometimes disabling psychiatric issues has turned situations around and helped those told to ‘get out’ to come back on both feet with dignity repaired and self esteem improved. Additionally, through careful assessment and planning, accommodations and supports are arranged for return to school.

Evidence based treatment practices such as Cognitive Behavioral and Interpersonal Psychotherapies, Psycho-education, Integrated Dual Disorders Treatment, Relapse Prevention Training, Medication Management, DBT Skills Training, and Supported Employment have been part of the treatment process at Spruce Mountain Inn for decades. However, it is the ways in which our committed and dedicated staff like Teri Lawrence go the extra mile for our clients that have made Spruce Mountain Inn a truly outstanding program.

Some student success stories…

Brendan age 22

A very bright young man with depression, was very close to university graduation. Exacerbated symptoms forced him to leave abruptly; unable to seek medical leave or withdrawals due to his condition. Brendan had recently switched majors and two departments were involved in a sea of red tape. He was required to speak to each instructor; some of whom no longer taught there. Teri was able to get these requirements waived and the way paved for Brendan’s readmittance and concomitant likelihood of acceptance to graduate school. These tasks would have been insurmountable for this young adult without skilled support.

Robert age 23

Diagnosed with a schizoaffective disorder and co-occurring substance abuse issues attended a prestigious university for three years. At that point, his mental illness became more acute, his grades declined and he was unable to attend to the process of withdrawing. He was briefly hospitalized and transferred to Spruce Mountain Inn where he worked on better managing his illness and prepared to return to school. The process of working with the Dean, contacting various departments at school, and expunging his last semester grades required support both for the mechanics and the feelings engendered by this process.