LEAD Pittsburgh is working to help college students manage stress

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Your Jan. 28 story "High Levels of Stress at Carnegie Mellon Decried" and the insightful and heartbreaking column it was based on, written by Carnegie Mellon University senior Katie Chironis, have done great public service in putting the spotlight on the serious issue of students ill-prepared to deal with stress.

While it may be impossible to know all the factors that contributed to the tragic incident at the center of these stories -- a sophomore student's suicide -- we do know from student surveys and independent research that demands on students have increased while resources to help them manage stress or identify more serious problems have not.

Alarmed by numbers that suggest an epidemic-scale problem of depression generally in American society, Pittsburgh philanthropist Sheila Fine organized a group of community volunteers to form Leading Education and Awareness of Depression -- LEAD Pittsburgh. The mission is to develop practical, effective solutions to treat this pervasive behavioral health disorder.

Sobering statistics such as the 1,100-student suicide number reported in your article have prompted LEAD to focus on the college student population.

The result is a new program in the beginning stages of implementation: Student Curriculum on Resilience Education, or SCoRE, which is designed to provide college students with an online, privacy-secured program where they learn effective strategies for dealing with stress. The program is based on education and resiliency skills identified by college professionals, specifically for 18- to 25-year-old students.

Last year, nine colleges and universities launched SCoRE, www.scoreforcollege.org, through a Web-enabled, instructor-led process. This month, LEAD has released a self-paced version for use on college campuses. Students who have participated in early stage testing of the program have found it valuable in helping them become more self-reliant and confident in their ability to manage stress.

LEAD Pittsburgh and the seven Pittsburgh-based foundations that support it believe that one student succumbing to otherwise treatable conditions related to stress is one too many. We are committed to making our college population among the most educated and best-equipped groups in our society to deal effectively with mental health issues related to stress and depression.

Executive Director
LEAD Pittsburgh



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