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Vol. LVII, No. 10
May 20, 2005
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Real College Students Get Depression Too

The University of Michigan launched its own Real Men Real Depression (RMRD) campaign recently, becoming the first university to customize and implement NIMH's national educational outreach program. Almost every part of the university participated in developing the campus-wide effort, including the Office of the Dean of Students, the U-M Depression Center, the Division of Student Affairs, the University Health Service, University Housing and student groups.

The NIMH/Michigan collaboration began a year ago, following NIMH's presentation of the campaign at an annual conference in Ann Arbor. Over several months, the two organizations designed a plan to bring the materials and the message, "It Takes Courage To Ask for Help," to campus. The university ran ads in campus shuttles; aired public service announcements on the campus cable station; displayed posters in central, high-traffic areas; distributed booklets and co-branded trifolds throughout campus; and blanketed dining areas in residence halls with campaign tent cards.

Michigan has created a sophisticated evaluation plan, including focus groups and an online survey. It plans to relaunch the campaign in the fall and hopes to develop a program for other universities across the country.

Students across campus talked about the high visibility of the campaign. "It was everywhere," said one. A student mental health advocate and organizer of the campaign recalled: "My friend saw me putting up the table tents.and said that already he's had all these conversations with people and thinks it's cool that there's something about men's issues."

RMRD was launched in April 2003 to respond to a growing awareness that depression in men is overlooked and undiagnosed. The NIMH campaign features real people, not actors, telling their personal stories of how depression affected them. One was a college student, who happened to be enrolled at Michigan. Today, Rodolfo Palma-Lulión still lives in Ann Arbor and now works for the university. His face and story were prominently featured in the U-M campaign, and he was interviewed for a documentary put together by the Division of Student Affairs and the Depression Center.

For more information on U-M's implementation of the campaign, visit http://www.med.umich.edu/depression/college_2005_general.htm.