The Wall Street Journal: “A Serious Illness or an Excuse?”

As mental health problems become less stigmatizing, more college students are comfortable asking their professors for test extensions and excused absences due to bouts of depression and panic attacks.

Schools say they are seeing a rise in the number of students registering with their disability offices due to psychological problems. At Pace University in New York, the number of requests for accommodations from students with disabilities related to psychological disorders tripled in the last three years according to an article in The Wall Street Journal.

But there’s hand-wringing among university administrators and faculty about how to support college students with mental health issues while making sure young adults progress academically. One of the goals of college, after all, is to prepare students for the working world. And not every boss may be OK with a blown deadline for a critical client report, no matter the reason. Professors also want to make sure they’re being fair to all students.

Some formal accommodations, like additional test time, are fairly standard across universities and apply to students with physical and learning disabilities, too. But, schools diverge widely on formal accommodations for flexibility with assignment deadlines, class attendance and participation. Some schools leave it up to individual instructors. Others intervene more directly on students’ behalf.

Prevention Magazine: “8 Ways to Beat the Holiday Blues”

It’s hard to tell when all the joyous merriment of the season tips over into a seemingly undue case of the blues. From social, work and family celebrations, to financial pressure of gift-buying, to the hurry-up-and-party mentality, to skipped workouts, erratic eating and overblown New Year’s Resolutions … the fact is, holiday blues are nearly inevitable. Here’s a spoonful of coping advice from Pace’s Dr. Richard Shadick.

“Remember, holidays are often stressful. Holidays require more of us–more socializing, more shopping, and more running around,” says Richard Shadick, PhD, Director of the Counseling Center and Associate Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Pace University, in an article appearing in Prevention magazine and online at MSN Health.  “All of this can be taxing, so adjust your expectations and you won’t be as disappointed if the holidays don’t feel like great fun.”

Don’t go for broke

“Financial pressures are common during the holidays, particularly given the state of the economy in the past few years,” says Shadick. “Don’t assume that you are required to give lavishly if you cannot afford to. Complete a budget and stick to it.” Find thoughtful ways to reach out to people—whether it’s offering to pick up items for a neighbor when you’re hitting the grocery for the sixth time in a week, or just texting a friend who’s entertaining a houseful to see how she’s doing.

Forbes.com: “Ilya Zhitomirskiy: With Grief, A Dialogue On Depression, Stress And Anxiety Takes Shape”

In the wake of the suicide of a promising tech entrepreneur this weekend, Dr. Richard Shadick helps us – and Forbes.com readers – to understand the mindset of young founders in a startup culture who may be dealing with issues of isolation/stress/depression.

In the wake of the passing this weekend of Ilya Zhitomirskiy, one of the four founders of much-hyped open-source social network Diaspora, an unsettling conversation has begun within the tech community. Zhitomirskiy’s death, rumored to be a suicide but officially the cause is unknown, has ignited what many see as a much-needed and long-awaited dialogue in the industry: the mental health repercussions of the immense pressure and scrutiny—both internal and external—that young tech founders weather in their quest for the new American Dream.

“These are the new masters of the universe,” says Richard Shadick, Ph.D., the director of Pace University’s counseling center and adjunct professor of psychology in an interview with Forbes.com. “We saw the same profile with Wall Streeters in the 80s: lots and lots of pressure and enough money to motivate them to keep striving for more.” Entrepreneurs, especially those in the high-risk-high-reward startup game tend to have a specific type of personality profile, he says: exceedingly driven, creative, often idiosyncratic thinkers with what can be overwhelmingly high ideals. “It takes a little bit of craziness just to undertake such a huge endeavor to begin with.”

But are entrepreneurs any more prone to depression than the rest of the world? New research does link the creative thought process and capacity for highly focused work so often seen in founders with depressive thinking. Amongst themselves, founders point to isolation, pressure and lack of adequate health care as fuel to the fire of depression. One fund-raising entrepreneur notes that looking for funding might make it especially difficult for a young founder to address any mental health issues he might face. “I do believe it is an impediment to getting investor backing,” he says. “Depression is not well understood by people who haven’t experienced it.”

In the wake of a tragedy like the death of a member of the community, an outcry for a solution is natural. By all accounts the opening of a dialogue on the mental health issues of entrepreneurs—a possible predisposition to depressive thinking and the insurmountable pressure of attempting to reach superstardom by 30—is a step in the right direction.

But Shadick thinks it’s imperative that the conversation surrounding mental health become an industry priority.“The prototype of a Zuckerberg can be quite dangerous for someone to try and attain,” he says. To that end he says it’s essential to address the issue of stress management within the community and the encouragement of realistic work-life balance. “Particularly for founders. Because if someone is starting a company, they’re going to be the model for all future employees and the health of the corporate culture.”

And if work-life balance plays even the tiniest part of the mental health of an individual, that seems like one place where the risk just isn’t worth it.

San Diego Red/San Diego Union-Tribune: “Mental health professionals analyze murder-suicide cases that claim eight lives in San Diego area in little more than a week, including four children”

San Diego recently experienced back to back murder suicides involving Hispanic families. Looking for insight, San Diego Red, the bilingual partner of the San Diego Union-Tribune, reached out to Pace’s Dr. Richard Shadick, asking him to shed light on these tragedies, put them into context of economic times and address cultural factors.

What are the warning signs of potential murder suicide; how rare is it and what resources are typically available?

Dr. Richard Shadick, director of the Counseling Center at Pace University in New York, said people who want to kill themselves usually give warning signs.

“Most notably, if someone has a history of violence they report feelings of depression, anger management difficulties, a sense of hopelessness and helplessness,” Shadick said. “There is social withdrawal from the family, community and friends. Substances can be involved.”

“Typically there are some difficulties that have occurred prior to a murder-suicide, financial difficulties, perhaps domestic violence,” he said.

The SanDiegoRed, the bilingual partner of the San Diego Union-Tribune, reported that according to health experts, Latinos suffer from mental illness about the same rate as the rest of the population but are less likely to seek help. In San Diego County, Latinos make up one-third of the region’s population but are just 20 percent of the adults who seek help at county mental health facilities.

“There is some shame associated with it,” Shadick said, echoing a well-known cultural barrier. There is an expectation among Latinos, he said, that “men should be able to handle their problems on their own, that they should be able to make money for the family and handle marital or relationship difficulties without relying on others.”

EverydayHealth: “5 Questions Doctors Ask When Screening for Depression”

Mental health professionals rely on a number of screening tools to accurately diagnose depression. Here’s a peek at the questions they ask — so you can assess your own risk.

Not everyone experiences the same warning signs of depression, according to a just-published article on EverydayHealth.com.  Some people may endure sadness, hopelessness, feelings of guilt; others may lose interest in their favorite activities, have trouble thinking clearly, or face fatigue and changes in their sleeping or eating patterns.

“Diagnosing depression requires a complete history and physical exam,” says Richard Shadick, PhD, associate adjunct professor of psychology and director of the counseling center at Pace University in New York City. Doctors must also rule out medical problems such as thyroid disease and consider coexisting emotional health issues like anxiety disorder, post traumatic stress, and substance abuse.

What goes into a depression screening? “There are many types of depression scales and depression screens,” explains Shadick. “The questions asked look for common symptoms as well as how much these symptoms might be affecting a person’s ability to function and maintain relationships.”

EverydayHealth.com: “Why Are So Many Gay Teens Depressed?”

Too often, hostile environments at school and at home make gay and lesbian adolescents depressed. Dr. Richard Shadick, director of Pace’s NYC Campus Counseling Center, suggests how teens in the LGBT adolescent scene can find the emotional support they need.

A recent National School Climate Survey of 7,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) students, ranging in age from 13 to 21, found that 80 percent had been verbally harassed, 40 percent physically harassed, 60 percent felt unsafe at school, and one in three had missed a day of school in the last month due to fear of violence.

Given these struggles, it’s no surprise that a LGBT teen may experience depression.

“Family members and friends can provide needed support for a loved one who might be depressed,” advised Richard Shadick, PhD, director of the Counseling Center and an adjunct professor of psychology at Pace University in New York City, in an interview with EverydayHealth.com.  “Warning signs include a change in how a gay teen relates (they become withdrawn and isolated), how they look (they may become unkempt, sad, or dispirited), or how they act (they may give away prize possessions, talk of wanting to die, and/or engage in impulsive and dangerous behavior).  They may also drink or use drugs heavily.  And if a teen has a family member that has died because of suicide or they have tried to kill themselves before, then there should be extra concern,” said Shadick.

Click here to read more of the article – “Why Are So Many Gay Teen Depressed?” – which appears on EverydayHealth.com, a leading provider of online health solutions with more than 28 million monthly unique visitors.

Esperanza: “Working around depression” (Cover Story)

Pressures at work can threaten your mental health, so you need a plan to handle the stress and safeguard your mood.

 When stress on the job saps your mental health, it’s time for a new business model. 

“Absenteeism, errors, conflicts with colleagues, missed deadlines, fatigue, difficulty concentrating—these are all indications that depression is an issue,” explains Dr. Richard Shadick, PhD, director of the counseling center at New York City’s Pace University, in the Winter 2011 issue of Esperanza.  Shadick says recent economic woes have only exacerbated the stress and anxiety levels of workers in the United States and Canada.

According to Shadick, when financial and family conditions permit, workplace depression actually can be an important impetus for change.  In that light, the very real pain of depression might be compared to the agony of labor, giving birth to a new existence.

“It can give us a chance to re-examine our lives and where we are,” Shadick says, “and in that sense it can also be a gift.”

Forbes: “The Five Stages Of Public Grieving”

In the wake of a national tragedy like the Tucson shooting last week, an entire country mourns.

“When there is a national tragedy, the emotions of dealing with it can often set off or remind people of personal tragedies, which can lead to depression,” says Richard Shadick, Ph.D., director of Pace University’s Counseling Center in New York City. “Public mourning of a national event can help people to deal with the personal feelings, but can also bring depressive emotions to the surface.”

Grieving through a national tragedy can be incredibly complex. Experts say the public deals with survivor’s guilt immediately following a trauma, and these feelings can be exacerbated by 24-7 news coverage. In the aftermath of the violent attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz., which left six people dead, including a 9-year-old girl, the country is mourning collectively as we try to pick up the pieces.

Here’s how to work your way through the Five Stages of Grief — Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

One Mental Health Message Does Not Fit All; Pace University Customizes Suicide-Prevention Outreach to Reflect Multicultural and Sexual Differences

“It is our belief that diversity issues have yet to be comprehensively addressed in suicide prevention, despite the urgent need to do so,” said Dr. Richard Shadick.

Uses $364,000 SAMHSA Grant; Offers Kits Free to Schools – 

NEW YORK, NY, October 28, 2010 – “The way a young gay Puerto Rican man will tell you he is feeling depressed and suicidal differs greatly from the way an Asian-American student will tell you,” says Richard Shadick, PhD, director of the Counseling Center on Pace University’s New York City campus and an adjunct professor of psychology.

Building on that insight, Pace’s Counseling Center is using grants totaling $364,000 from the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to enhance the multicultural competence of staff and faculty members who work with students and may refer them to counseling.

Multicultural Competence Suicide Prevention Kits – including brochures and posters, educational materials, public service announcements and training vignettes for role play – have been created, targeting students from seven different groups: African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Muslims, Latinos, international students, disabled students and those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT). Staff members have also disseminated these kits to schools nationally and trained mental health professionals on other campuses on how to use them. Their efforts have been featured as a model program in a SAMHSA suicide prevention monograph.

“It is our belief that diversity issues have yet to be comprehensively addressed in suicide prevention, despite the urgent need to do so,” said Shadick, pointing out those who are at particular risk being:

African-Americans who are alienated from their spiritual community or feel a stigma in seeking counseling.

Asian-Americans who feel a conflict between Asian culture and American culture.

Disabled students who deny the impact of their disability and have persistent beliefs in attaining full health and/or ability when it is not possible.

LGBT students who lack of family acceptance and support of their sexuality.

International students who are struggling with acculturation, socially isolated and have language barriers.

Latinos who are socially isolated from their spiritual community, in the midst of a relationship break up high or who endure sexual abuse.

Muslims who are struggling with their spirituality or who are disconnected from family.

Further efforts are underway at Pace, which is recognized for its undergraduate and graduate programs in clinical psychology, to research the nature of suicide for diverse student groups.

Schools who would like to obtain a free Multicultural Competence Suicide Prevention Kit should send their request to Dr. Shadick at rshadick@pace.edu

Psychology Department on Pace University’s New York City Campus

Pace offers two undergraduate degrees, a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology and Human Relations; and four graduate degrees, MSEd in School Psychology, MSEd in Bilingual School Psychology, MA in General Psychology, and PsyD in School-Clinical Child Psychology. Pace’s PsyD degree is approved by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) and accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA), and is one of only 10 nationwide recognized as a combined professional-scientific doctoral program by the APA.

Professional Education at Pace University

Since 1906, Pace University has offered professional education that combines liberal arts with practical experience and the advantages of the New York metropolitan area. A private university, Pace has campuses in New York City and Westchester County, New York. It enrolls more than 13,500 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in its Dyson College of Arts and Sciences (which includes The Actors Studio Drama School’s MFA, the Acting BFA, Musical Theater BFA and Theater Arts BA programs), Lienhard School of Nursing, Lubin School of Business, School of Education, School of Law, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. www.pace.edu

For more information:

Samuella Becker
Media Relations/Pace University
(212) 346-1637 or (917) 734-5172
Sbecker2@pace.edu

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