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Mental Health


  • One in four adults−approximately 61.5 million Americans−experiences mental illness in a given year.

  • Approximately 18.1 percent of American adults−about 42 million people−live with anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder and phobias.

  • Approximately 6.7 percent of American adults−about 14.8 million people−live with major depression. 

National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Illness Facts and Numbers. (March 2013). Retrieved from URL

Myth: Teenagers don’t suffer from “real” mental illnesses — they are just moody.
Fact: One in five teens has some type of mental health problem in a given year.

Myth: Talk about suicide is an idle threat that need not be taken seriously.
Fact: Suicide is the third leading cause of death among high school students and the second leading cause of death in college students. Talk about suicide should always be taken seriously.

Myth: Mental illness is an indication of weakness, and those experiencing problems should just “snap out of it.”
Fact: Mental illnesses are just that: illnesses. They are not character flaws. Facing a mental illness and going through the process of therapy takes an enormous amount of emotional and physical strength.

Myth: Mental illness is not real and cannot be treated.
Fact: Mental disorders are as easy to diagnose as asthma, diabetes and cancer and have a range of effective treatments for most conditions.

Myth: Mental illnesses are not “real” medical illnesses.
Fact: Mental illnesses can be just as disabling as other medical illnesses, and many are at least partly biological in nature.

Myth: We’re good people. Mental illness doesn't happen to my family.
Fact: One in four families is affected by a mental health problem.

Myth: Eating disorders only affect celebrities and models.
Fact: Each year eating disorders and binge eating affect 24 million Americans. Eating disorders claim more lives each year than any other mental disorder.

Myth: It’s not depression; you're just going through a phase.
Fact: Nineteen million adults in the United States suffer from some form of depression every year.

Myth: Insurance doesn’t need to cover mental health; it’s not a big problem.
Fact: Fifty-four million Americans are affected by mental illness each year, regardless of ethnicity, sex or socioeconomic class.

Myth: Doctors are too busy treating physical problems to deal with mental health.
Fact: Up to one-half of all visits to primary care physicians are due to conditions that are caused or exacerbated by mental illness.

Myth: Mental illness is a personal problem not a business concern.
Fact: Depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States over back problems, heart disease and liver failure.

University of Michigan, Five Common Myths. (n.d.). Retrieved from URL  

Recognizing a Serious Mental Health Crisis

A crisis is a situation where someone’s usual coping style becomes overwhelmed and the emotional and physiological responses escalate. With increasing emotions, coping becomes less effective until the person may become disoriented, non-functional or attempt harm. If someone is in serious mental health crisis, one might see the following:

  • Highly disruptive behavior (physical/verbal aggression)

  • Overt suicidal threats (written or verbal)

  • Homicidal threats (written or verbal, attempted suicide or assault)

  • Inability to communicate clearly (incoherent, garbled, slurred speech)

  • Loss of contact with reality (seeing/hearing things that are not there, paranoia)

What to Do When You Suspect a Mental Health Crisis

For consultation in assessing the situation, call Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 864-656-2451 during 8 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday–Friday. If the student is willing, offer to walk them to CAPS. Students in crisis will be served immediately to stabilize their safety. If emergency is after hours/weekends, contact 864-656-2222 and request that the CAPS counselor on-call be contacted.

If immediate assistance is needed on site, contact 911 or CUPD at 864-656-2222.

Clemson University Counseling and Psychological Services, Students in Distress:  A Guide for Faculty and Staff. (February 2015). Retrieved from URL

Everyone experiences symptoms of distress at one time or another; however, if symptoms persist over time and/or increase in severity, this may indicate need for assistance.


Marked Changes in Attitude towards Academic Performance

  • Poor preparation for class

  • Drop in performance

  • Expressions of non-caring about classes

  • Excessive absences or tardiness to class

  • Excessive anxiety about class work

  • Strong reactions to class material

  • Exaggerated emotional responses that are obviously inappropriate to the situation

  • Exaggerated need to oppose the teaching or discussions

  • Inability to communicate clearly

  • Perfectionism and excessive worry

Changes in Behavior

  • Depressed or lethargic mood

  • Avoiding participation in class activities

  • Unusual or changed pattern of interaction with others

  • Apathy or “in a daze”

  • Oversleeping or not sleeping enough

  • Disruptive behavior

  • Consistently avoiding eating with others

  • Marked increase or decrease in energy level

  • Marked increase in irritability

  • Low tolerance for frustration

Unusual Appearance

  • Changes in personal hygiene or dress style

  • Dramatic weight loss or gain

  • Swollen or red eyes

Clemson University Counseling and Psychological Services, Students in Distress:  A Guide for Faculty and Staff. (February 2015). Retrieved from URL

If you choose to approach someone, or if someone comes to you for help with personal problems, the following suggestions are recommended.  


TALK with them in private. You may need to schedule a time to talk so that both of you are not rushed and preoccupied. Express your concern by referring to their behavior in non-judgmental terms. Ask open-ended questions. Express empathy. Avoid asking “why” questions.


LISTEN actively and give them your undivided attention. Communicate understanding by your verbal response, facial expression and body posture. Reflect feelings to make sure you understand.


INSTILL hope. Most situations have options. Assist them by moving away from focusing exclusively on the problem. Suggest resources and support their desire to move beyond the problem.


AVOID judgmental statements, evaluations or criticism. Avoid comparisons that place them at a disadvantage. Respect their value system even if it is different from your own.


REFER to adequate resources. Encourage accessing services and follow through as signs of strength and courage rather than signs of weakness or failure. Support their timetable for accessing services. If needed, assist with setting up of appointment and/or going to the appointment.


FOLLOW-UP with them and see if they followed through with referral. Allow them to express reactions to the appointment.


CONSULT CAPS if you need guidance with the intervention.


Clemson University Counseling and Psychological Services, Students in Distress:  A Guide for Faculty and Staff. (February 2015). Retrieved from URL

CARE Network

While students on Clemson’s campus deal with many challenging situations every day, the CARE Network is designed to track those incidents which are deemed “critical” and/or which may indicate unusual or harmful student behavior or trends.


Behavioral Intervention Team

Any member of the Clemson or surrounding community who has a concern for the well-being or safety of a student (and/or faculty/staff) or the University or surrounding community, or who has reason to believe that a student (and/or faculty/staff) may pose a direct threat to himself/herself or to the community, may refer the student to the Behavioral Intervention Team.