Starting this semester, six mental health clinicians at the Cal State Monterey Bay counseling center are participating in a five-year study on implementing evidence-based treatment to help students with depression and eating disorders.

CSUMB is one of 24 universities nationwide that are participating in the study, which is funded through a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. Stewart Agras, a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University’s School of Medicine and a leading researcher in the field of eating disorders, is overseeing the study.

The purpose of the research study, “Implementation of Evidence-Based Treatments for On-Campus Eating Disorders,” is to determine whether high-intensity implementation methods will prove superior to low-intensity approaches in improving patient outcomes.

“What this will allow our therapists to do is to receive training in this specific therapy model and to determine if it helps our students,” said Caroline Haskell, the founding director of the Personal Growth and Counseling Center (PGCC). Haskell currently oversees all of Health and Wellness Services at Cal State Monterey Bay.

Approximately 36-50 students at CSUMB with an eating disorder or depression will be assigned to therapists following the clinical protocol currently in practice at the PGCC.

Therapists will then receive training in the implementation of Interpersonal Psychotherapy and utilize this treatment method with their students. During the course of the study, analysis of these different clinical approaches will help determine which is more effective.

Haskell said that the opportunity for six CSUMB clinicians to be trained at no cost in this treatment method is a major benefit of participating in the study.

Depression and eating disorders both rank among the top five mental health issues seen by clinicians at the counseling center.

“In the early years, eating disorders were almost exclusively a female problem,” Haskell said. “But in recent years, we have seen a considerably larger percentage of males who present with disordered eating.”

Haskell said the university has also received a grant from the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), which is funded by Proposition 63. The grant will support curriculum development and training, peer-to-peer support programs and suicide prevention.

The CSU applied for and received a $6.9 million grant which was allocated across the 23 campuses. This three-year grant will assist in the integration of campus police, student services and community resources to help identify students with potential mental health issues and offer early intervention.

The Personal Growth and Counseling Center, located in the Health and Wellness Services building at the corner of General Jim Moore and Inter-Garrison Road, offers a variety of services, including individual and group counseling, workshops and classes.

Its website also includes links to information for parents, faculty and staff on mental health care, student referrals and available services.