Mental Health (Stress/Anxiety and Depression) by Jenna Kravitz and Jarett Terner

Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal: House Bill 5524

​The House Bill 5524 supports our proposal as it requires teachers to undergo training to better understand students that struggle through mental health difficulties. Our proposal tangentially relates to this by training students on how to better deal with the mental health issues that may arise during education.

Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan: By educating Michigan high-school seniors about how to best prepare for what to expect in college, we expect these students to feel significantly less stressed/anxious during their time on college campuses. Therefore, this will ultimately reduce a variety of mental health conditions including: stress, anxiety and depression (as oftentimes, one leads to another). While this might be targeting high school seniors (ages 17 and 18), it is built to make a difference for students while they are in college, especially during their freshman years when they experience the most change. Although only one age group is actually attending the program, the difference will likely be felt by students across all ages in the state of Michigan. Those attending the educational program can teach their younger and older peers the lessons they have learned. Overall, morale among these students during the transition from high school to college will increase tremendously, ultimately improving Michigan students' graduation rates, through providing them with the resources necessary to deal with whatever mental health concerns that they might encounter throughout their collegiate careers.

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal? When discussing what proposal topic we were interested in undertaking, we had a brainstorming session and determined that we were both passionate about mental health, as we know many peers who are currently or have previously been struggling with these issues. We conducted some preliminary research on the internet to confirm our hypothesis that mental health is an issue in the state of Michigan. Moreover, through our research, we were able to determine the main mental health issues Michigan students struggle with as well as some of the underlying causes (i.e. technology, school work, and other external factors in the students’ home lives). We coordinated consultations (in-person, over email and on the phone) and ended up speaking with members of Michigan CAPS, 826 Michigan (where we are both doing our community service), and the University of Michigan-Dearborn in order to learn more about the issues at hand.

How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal? Both of us had the opportunity to volunteer at 826 Michigan, a tutoring center that inspires school-aged students to write confidently and skillfully with the help of adult volunteers in their communities, throughout the semester. It was very interesting to see a wide variety of children’s personalities and behaviors, as we worked with students from six to 11 years old. During our training, we learned how to be kind and supportive to all students and encourage them to express their feelings and experiences through writing. In addition, we were taught about some potential red flags to look out for, which would require a discussion with the students’ parents. Although our proposal is focused on students at the high school and college level, it was helpful to see firsthand that mental health conditions may start from a very young age. Although providing the “right” support may be difficult, it is certainly difficult and comes with practice. One of the goals of this proposal is to teach students about a variety of support tactics.

 

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

Mental Health: Stress, Bullying, Depression and Suicide 

Consultations

Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).

CONSULTATION 1: 

Name: Vicky Hays

Title: Associate Director of Counseling and Psychological Services at the University of Michigan

Conversation Summary: Vicky was very supportive throughout the proposal process. Before our initial in-person conversation, we expected her to tell us that CAPS needed more resources; however, she informed us that one of the parts of the university that she is most proud of is the resources that are available to students at CAPS. She also mentioned how post 9/11, stress and anxiety have become more "hot button topics" that students come forward about, which motivated us to focus on these mental health conditions. Vicky also mentioned how there is a regular contingent of clients that come into CAPS. She said that the number one source of referrals is from advisors, but now friends have become a very close second as well. Most importantly, she encouraged us to think about increasing the peer-to-peer resources that exist, which was very helpful advice. We recently contacted Vicky to update her with our progress and get her opinion on our tentative lesson plan - she absolutely loved it, but encouraged us to change the name from "College Readiness Class" to something more appealing for students.

 

CONSULTATION 2:

Name: Frances Martin

Title: Program Manager of 826 Michigan

Conversation Summary: Frances from 826 Michigan was very guarded with her responses. Due to the confidentiality of her role, she did not expand very much on the mental health of the students that come into the program; however, she did mention that students suffer from various mental health conditions across the board. Frances touched on how each tutor is trained to support a student who shows signs of a mental health condition (through their writing or conversations with the volunteers) and they often engage with parents to ensure everyone is on the same page. The two of us are both doing our community service at 826, so we were able to draw connections between our experiences and this conversation. Moreover, we believe our service opportunities have helped shape our proposal.

 

CONSULTATION 3:

Name: Kim Killu

Title: Professor, Special Education & Applied Behavior Analysis; College of Education, Health & Human Services; University of Michigan-Dearborn

Conversation Summary: Kim Killu was kind enough to speak to us from the University of Michigan-Dearborn about our project. As we spoke to her quite recently, we were able to share our progress with Kim and although she was impressed, she gave us some very helpful advice. For example, we shared with Kim our three potential solutions and she encouraged us to move forward with a class that prepares students for the rigours of collegiate life. By doing this, she was confident that we could help alleviate stress and anxiety, which could potentially lead to depression down the road. Moreover, she agreed with Vicky about the importance of peer-to-peer resources, but suggested including this within the class idea. By increasing peer education, hopefully the students with these conditions will feel more open about their mental problems, and will have greater access to help from those surrounding them. She also thought that this would help decrease the stigma plaguing students with mental health conditions.

Furthermore, she shared many of her experiences relating to the topic with us, which gave us significant insight into common mental health conditions at an alternate college. She mentioned how she often sees inconsistencies with her students’ performances. They might score a 90% on one exam, and then a 35% on the next and stop going to class. She attributes this to the external factors of stress surrounding the students, and believes that not all students are equipped to handle it.

Prospectus:

Describe the specific issue or problem, being sure to provide sufficient context so that someone less familiar with the issue has a sense of the bigger picture, but know that your focus here is on a more detailed spelling out of the specific problem or issue that you’ve identified. (250 words minimum)

Mental Health Prospectus: Stress/Anxiety and Depression
 

Potential Solutions:

Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.

SOLUTION 1: Peer-to-Peer Resources

To conclude our consultation with Vicky Hays from CAPS, we asked her if there were any resources that she wish had existed in order to improve mental health on campus. Without hesitation, she explained how many would benefit from better support from their peers. As such, many teenagers and young adults are not equipped with the proper education, resources and confidence to support their peers who are struggling with stress/anxiety and/or depression. Mental health conditions may go unnoticed and might be taboo to speak about, making peer-to-peer interaction even more important. All schools in Michigan should learn from Pioneer High School in Michigan, offering a Positive Peer Influence Class to help students cope with conflict and/or personal issues.

In addition to teaching friends how to support one another, this educational program (for both high school and college students) could focus on encouraging peers, who have struggled with or are currently struggling with a mental health disorder, to share their experiences and offer empathy for those in need of help and support. In fact, research shows that peer-run self-help groups improve psychiatric symptoms and thus, decrease hospitalization and enhance self-esteem and social functioning.

 

SOLUTION 2: College Resources at High School Level (Senior Year Class to Replicate College, CAPS, Weekend Field Trips to Prepare for Homesickness)

The transition from high school to college is quite abrupt. This idea was confirmed by an article written by a University of Michigan student just last week, titled “10 Ways High School Does NOT Prepare You For College”. A national survey found that 50% of freshman reported feeling stressed most or all of the time and 36% said they did not feel as if they were able to manage the stress involved with a day-to-day college life, often leading to cases of depression. Therefore, in order to ensure students are ready and able to begin this stage in their life, Michigan high schools should offer a senior-year class that resembles a university class (i.e. heavy readings, large lectures, teacher assistants), as well as regular weekend field trips, associated with the class, to prepare students for being away from home. In addition, if a program, similar to CAPS, existed in high-schools, and students were highly encouraged to talk to the counselors on a regular basis (or even required to throughout the class), they may be more likely to utilize CAPS (or a CAPS-like program once they get to college). To truly understand the nature of the problem, we have created a pole within the K-12 Educational Achievement Discussion Group to receive insight about whether the members of the caucus felt like their high schools prepared them well for the workload associated with college classes.

 

SOLUTION 3: High-School Education about Trade Schools in order to Decrease Pressure on High-School Students to Receive Admission to University

After reading and participating in Tomasso’s discussion about how many students feel pressured to attend universities, it became clear that a lack of knowledge exists about the benefits of trade school. Not only are they less expensive and you can obtain a degree much more quickly, some students would thrive to a greater degree in this setting. Trade schools may help significantly decrease stress, as college students are worried about debt, job prospects and financial pressures from their parents. The educational program for high school students could focus on the many complex opportunity costs involved with this decision. For example, students who attend university are foregoing years of salary from a full-time job that they could have gotten after just two years of trade school. From a financial cost perspective, the average trade school degree costs $33,000 compared to the national average of $127,000 for a four-year bachelor’s degree program. As such, trade school students are able to avoid significant amounts of debt; the average debt for University of Michigan students is $25,712.

To receive greater insight into what each of these educational programs should include, we plan to talk to representatives from the Michigan Department of Education and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

 

Sources for Potential Solutions:

Hays, V. (2018, February 06). [Personal Interview].

Jesse, D., & Tanner, K. (2017, September 20). Average student loan debt for Michigan students still tops $30,000. Retrieved March 18, 2018, from https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2017/09/20/average-student-loan-debt-michigan/681697001/

Lewin, T. (2011, January 27). Record Level of Stress Found in College Freshmen. Retrieved March 18, 2018, from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/27/education/27colleges.html

Peer support. (2017, November 20). Retrieved March 18, 2018, from https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/p/peer-support

Positive Peer Influence class at Pioneer High helps students cope with conflict, personal issues. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2018, from http://www.annarbor.com/neighborhoods/central-ann-arbor/positive-peer-influence-class-at-pioneer-high-helps-students-cope-with-conflict-personal-issues/

Survey Finds High Stress Levels of Freshmen. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2018, from https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2015/10/14/survey-finds-high-stress-levels-freshmen

Why You Should Consider Trade School Instead of College. (2017, October 19). Retrieved March 18, 2018, from https://www.thesimpledollar.com/why-you-should-consider-trade-school-instead-of-college/

 

Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:

You must solicit a critique from a topic coordinator, and explain the impact that advice has had on the final draft of this proposal.

We had the pleasure of meeting with Michael Fahy several times, both during our proposal check-in meeting, as well as during additional office hours. During our second office hours appointment, Jeff Stanzler also joined.

Throughout the proposal check-in meeting, we discussed our progress as well as our original ideas for our solutions. We talked about how during one of our consultations, the associate from CAPS, mentioned the need for more peer-to-peer resources in order to alleviate possible feelings of loneliness on campus. Michael was intrigued with this idea and encouraged us to look at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School’s Positive Peer Influencer (PPI) group. This was extremely helpful for us to see that many students have benefited from talking with other students about the challenges of high school.

During our second office hour appointment with Jeff and Michael, we talked about more specific details. After talking to Kim Killu the week before, she had suggested combining two of our solutions - teaching about mental health in a college readiness class. Both were fond of the idea. This program would focus on the transitional period from high school to college, but we were not sure whether to implement it in high school or college. However, Jeff informed us that it would be much more feasible to do in high school, as the state has less (if any) discrepancy over college programs and classes. Moreover, Michael suggested that we familiarize ourselves with graduation rate statistics in Michigan, as he had just read an article that stated how many students who began college did not graduate. Although there are many contributing factors, one is certainly due to students’ mental health conditions.

Research process:

Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what your thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit.  In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.

  1. Once we decided to work on this proposal project together, we planned for a meeting in Ross. During this meeting, we talked about whether we had any initial ideas for this project. We were both quite passionate about the topic of mental health because of how prevalent it has become. We each conducted thorough research about popular mental health conditions among students in Michigan and decided to focus our media artifact on stress, bullying, depression and suicide.

  2. To ensure we were on the right track, Jenna scheduled an office hours appointment with Michael. She questioned whether tackling four different conditions in the media artifact was too many, but Michael confirmed that for now, that was okay, as the media artifact is supposed to be broad.

  3. Although we were quite satisfied with the research we had conducted thus far, we were eager to begin our consultations. Therefore, we decided that a helpful resource might be someone from CAPS. Jenna called CAPS and explained this project. They were more than happy to help and allowed us to set up an appointment with the Associate Director. She provided significant insight and made helpful suggestions. We included this information in our media artifact pamphlet.

  4. After submitting our media artifact and having a very successful conversation with Vicky, we wanted to begin having more conversations. Because we were both doing our volunteer hours at 826Michigan, we realized that setting up a meeting with one of the Program Managers might be helpful. Jarett sent an email explaining our intentions, and Frances responded that although they are not allowed to conduct formal interviews, she would be happy to answer our questions (with as much detail as she could) through email. Although quite broad, her answers were decently helpful and confirmed our assumption that students at 826 suffer from a variety of mental health disorders.

  5. We then began our prospectus and combined both of these interviews into the short write-up. We conducted additional research and found that technology is a major factor with the increase in mental health disorders.

  6. We arranged a time for our proposal check-in and made sure to complete it before our three solutions were due. During this appointment, we discussed our progress and asked for some feedback on our peer-to-peer resources solution. We were pleased to learn that Michael liked the idea.

  7. We set up a time to create and write about two other solutions. We came up with a "College Readiness" class as well as a program promoting trade schools (after taking part in a very relevant discussion). Although we thought all of our ideas were well thought-out and would provide tremendous benefits to Michigan students, we liked our original idea the best, but kept our options open.

  8. Jarett set up a consultation with Kim Killu from Michigan Dearborn after finding her name on the bottom of a relevant article that we had used in our research. She was more than willing to speak to us and during our phone call, she suggested combining two of our solutions: “why don’t you do a college readiness class where one of the topics is supporting peers with mental health disorders?”. Not only would these students feel more prepared for the college transition (ultimately decreasing the stress created from this drastic transition), they would also know how support their friends who were struggling.

  9. We absolutely loved the idea, but were unsure of where to go from there. We set up an additional office hours appointment with Michael and Jeff who approved our idea and game us some focus for what we should do next.

  10. We wanted to hear from the members of the caucus about their experiences with the transition, so Jenna created a discussion topic within the K-12 Academic Achievement category. From this discussion, we learned that the large number of students that responded generally felt the same way - although they may have felt prepared academically, they experienced a significant culture shock which led to significant stress. This proved that this was a real problem that needed a solution.

  11. After our office hours meeting, we set up a time to work on our formal proposal and the final steps (including author contributions, consultant summaries, reaction/advice and finally writing this research process). Jenna created a lesson plan for this class on her own time.

  12. Before we submitted, we wanted to make sure we were on the right track so we set up another meeting with the faculty. Once again, Michael was more than happy to meet with us and he gave us some suggestions for our “whereas” and “therefore be it resolved” clauses. He encouraged us to reach back out to Vicky and run our lesson plan by her. She was extremely prompt and detailed in her response to our email and suggested that we change the name from “College Readiness Class” to something more appealing and consider implementing the class in Junior year, rather than Senior. However, due to our high school experiences, we believe that Junior year is simply too hectic and the students would receive greater benefits by learning about the material right before the transition.

  13. Using both Michael and Vicky’s suggestions, Jarett added in a bill reference and we both made edits on our own time to ensure our proposal was ready to submit!

Author contributions:

Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?


 

===FORMAL PROPOSAL===

The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.

Preambulatory clauses

These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.

WHEREAS… A national survey found that 50% of freshman reported feeling stressed most or all of the time and 36% said they did not feel as if they were able to manage the stress involved with a day-to-day college life, often leading to cases of depression. As explained below, this largely contributes to the average graduation rates among Michigan public schools, at 52.28%.

WHEREAS.... Childhood stress has increased significantly over the past couple of years. Common sources of stress among the youth in particular include: school performance, making and maintaining friendships and managing perceived expectation from their parents, teachers or coaches.

WHEREAS… Stress/anxiety often leads to depression, as stress disrupts a person’s healthy coping strategies (which has a direct effect on mood), discouraged feelings may generate further stress and stress may cause disrupted relationships and/or routines.

WHEREAS.... A study in the state of Michigan reports that students with depression are twice as likely to drop out of school and as a result, risk jeopardizing their careers. In addition, in a University of Michigan study, there is, on average, a 13% GPA percentile difference between a student suffering with depression and one who is not.

WHEREAS....Vicky from CAPS mentioned that post 9/11 stress has been the greatest mental health condition that she has seen students dealing with that visit CAPS. She also mentioned how stress, anxiety, and depression are three of the biggest reasons why students come seek help.

WHEREAS.... Psychologist David Rosenberg of Wayne State University proposes that the extreme use of technology in our society today is leading students to suffer from mental health conditions of stress, anxiety, and depression. In addition, Rosenberg suggests that college students’ drug use, homesickness, and financial insecurity are also major gateways to stress and anxiety on college campuses.

WHEREAS… Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor has seen successful results in offering a Positive Peer Influence Class to help students cope with conflict and/or personal issues. 

WHEREAS… According to our discussion created on the Caucus, a wide variety of students confirmed our belief about the lack of preparation students feel (mostly emotionally) during the transition from high school to college. Although they may have been prepared academically, many felt a culture shock during their freshman year.

Operative clauses

These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED....

  1. That the state will designate funds for a four-year pilot extra-curricular (optional) course program (called Prep for College Success) that prepares second-semester senior high school students for various mental health challenges that they may anticipate once in college. This program will take place after school, so that it does not interfere with the current school curriculum. 

  2. This course will be completed in five sessions covering five different topics: what to expect in college, how to take good notes, common resources available, tips to reduce stress and how to support peers.

  3. This program will recruit participants from three schools from each region in Michigan (i.e. Upper Peninsula, Northern Michigan, Central Michigan, and Southern Michigan).

  4. This program will secure funds for a coordinator as well as stipends for participating teachers.

  5. This program will have four phases - program design, recruitment, implementation and assessment. Each student involved will be asked to complete a survey at the end of the four-year period, which will asses graduation rates, stress rates, what they thought was helpful, etc.

Counter-arguments:

What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

  1. The government should be allocating more money to improving health services, such as CAPS, rather than programs of this nature.

  2. Because the program is optional, some schools may opt out due to the notion that they do not have enough time or resources to put in, or they may simply believe that their students do not need it. Moreover, not all high school students have the plan of matriculating into universities.

  3. Students will not take the course seriously, or will not put the time into the course without an incentive. Moreover, Ben Heller (TC) brought it to our attention that many high-school seniors “check out” midway through the year, and therefore, may not be very engaged with the material.

Costs and funding:

How will you pay for your proposed legislation?

The cost of this program would be quite minimal, as we would provide the schools with the lesson plan, which would be one of the only resources necessary. Funding would be required to train the teachers and provide them with a stipend for their time, as well as one or two coordinators to ensure that the program standards are up to par. We believe that one teacher from each participating school (12 in total) would be needed to run the class and should be paid approximately $30/hour. In addition, the coordinators would need to be paid approximately $25/hour. The state of Michigan would provide this funding.

Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from?  

The funding for the proposal could come from either the existing school budget, or from another state program that many in the Michigan congress are already considering cutting from the budget.

Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?  

Interest groups, who believe that Michigan is already allocating enough of the budget toward education, might object to dedicating resources to this proposal. In addition, some groups believe that any additional Michigan school funding should be going solely toward underfunded schools, and not to an additional program outside of STEM topics. Furthermore, some may believe that the state should be allocating more money towards health care options that would help students overcome various mental health conditions. However, we believe that focusing on preventative care options would be more effective.

References:

These can include websites or other information you have found about the issue.

Boyes, A. (2013, March 07). Why Stress Turns Into Depression. Retrieved March 08, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-practice/201303/why-stress-turns-depression

Hays, V. (2018, February 06). [Personal Interview].

Identifying signs of stress in your children and teens. (n.d.). Retrieved March 08, 2018, from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-children.aspx

Jesse, D. (2016, August 22). Report calls most of Michigans universities dropout factories. Retrieved April 03, 2018, from https://www.freep.com/story/news/education/2016/08/21/-michigans-universities-drop-out-factories/88989670/

Jesse, D., & Tanner, K. (2017, September 20). Average student loan debt for Michigan students still tops $30,000. Retrieved March 18, 2018, from https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2017/09/20/average-student-loan-debt-michigan/681697001/

Killu, K. (2018, March 22). [Personal Interview].

Lewin, T. (2011, January 27). Record Level of Stress Found in College Freshmen. Retrieved March 18, 2018, from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/27/education/27colleges.html

Martin, F. (2018, March 03). [Personal Interview].

Michigan Adolescent Mental Health Facts. (2017, January 31). Retrieved March 08, 2018, from https://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/facts-and-stats/national-and-state-data-sheets/adolescent-mental-health-fact-sheets/michigan/index.html

Peer support. (2017, November 20). Retrieved March 18, 2018, from https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/p/peer-support

Positive Peer Influence class at Pioneer High helps students cope with conflict, personal issues. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2018, from http://www.annarbor.com/neighborhoods/central-ann-arbor/positive-peer-influence-class-at-pioneer-high-helps-students-cope-with-conflict-personal-issues/

Rosenberg, D. (2018, February 09). 1 in 5 college students have anxiety or depression. Here's why. Retrieved March 08, 2018, from http://theconversation.com/1-in-5-college-students-have-anxiety-or-depression-heres-why-90440

Survey Finds High Stress Levels of Freshmen. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2018, from https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2015/10/14/survey-finds-high-stress-levels-freshmen

Why You Should Consider Trade School Instead of College. (2017, October 19). Retrieved March 18, 2018, from https://www.thesimpledollar.com/why-you-should-consider-trade-school-instead-of-college/

 


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Total votes: 28