Statistics indicate many college students suffer poor mental health, with more than 40 percent acknowledging they sometimes find it difficult to function. West Virginia University’s WELL WVU aims to combat that by teaching students how to cope with and identify mental illness.

Collaborating with the Psychology Club, WELL WVU has developed a new set of wellness programs designed to help students learn to identify signs and symptoms of mental illness, provide information on coping skills and refer students to mental health services.

As part of the programming, skits depicting common symptoms of mental illness will be performed for groups of freshmen living in student residence halls, followed by open group discussions. These skits help students to recognize how symptoms of mental illness might manifest in friends.

The kick-off event will be held at the Evansdale Residential Complex on Dec. 2 at 6 p.m.

Additionally, WELL WVU is educating students about depression, anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and anger management, all common problems among college students.

Within a school year, 36.4 percent of college students reported “feeling so depressed it was difficult to function” from one to 10 times, according to the Spring 2008 report of the American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment. Another 6.6 percent reported feeling this way more than 11 times.

Anxiety disorder was reported by 13.2 percent of the students.

New WELLcasts, or WELL WVU podcasts, describe symptoms of each disorder and will be featured on the WELL WVU Web site at .

Student groups, including sororities, fraternities, classes and student organizations can request a wellness program on a mental health topic for their group. A possible list of topics is available online at .

WELL WVU is also educating students on preventative habits. Along with information on symptoms of mental illness, the wellness programs and Web site materials suggest healthy coping mechanisms, or methods to deal with negative emotions and feelings.

Some examples of healthy coping mechanisms include improving habits like diet, sleep and exercise routines, talking to a friend or therapist before the problem becomes unmanageable and recognizing negative thought patterns before they become more difficult to stop.

For help, students with mental health concerns should contact the Carruth Center for Psychological and Psychiatric Services. Walk-in counseling is available weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, visit or call 304-293-WELL.