Mar 12 2013

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Alcohol and Mental Health

In the past few weeks, students, faculty and administrators have begun a dialogue about mental health and mental health services on campus.

As DAPAs, we would like to highlight the relationship between mental health and risk for substance abuse. Studies of a national sample of college students have shown that those with poor mental health/depression, though equally as likely as their peers to report frequent and heavy episodic drinking, are more likely than their peers to drink “to get drunk.”[1] As well, when coupled with depression, high-risk substance abuse-such as heavy drinking-has been linked to increased risk of suicide attempts.[2] Finally, it’s important to remember that some prescription medications can have negative reactions when mixed with alcohol, so if you’re encouraged to go on medication, ask your doctor if drug and alcohol interactions will have negative effects on your health.

While the Harvard support system might not be perfect just yet, we are lucky to live in a community that is acknowledging our call for action and working to make the changes our student body needs in order to have a strong support network. As many have done already, we would like to remind our fellow students that Harvard provides a number of professional mental health services and supports several peer-education groups on campus. For more information, please visit our resources page.

As well, we would like to highlight the great work students in Student Mental Health Liaisons (SMHL) have done to address the stigma surrounding mental health concerns. SMHL recently launched a new website, Harvard Speaks Up, which provides a platform for members of the community add to the dialogue about mental health. Check out their intro video and DAPA’s own video below, then visit the site and contribute to the conversation!

[1] Weitzman ER. Poor mental health, depression, and associations with alcohol consumption, harm, and abuse in a national sample of young adults in college. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. 2004;192:269–277.
[2] Lamis DA, Malone PS, Langhinrichsen-Rohling J, Ellis TE. Body investment, depression, and alcohol use as risk factors for suicide proneness in college students. Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention. 2010;31:118–127.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.harvarddapa.org/2013/03/alcohol-and-mental-health/

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