College Re-Entry Director Presents at The Dalton School

Posted on April 25, 2016

On Tuesday April 19th, College Re-Entry co-organized and participated in a presentation and panel discussion at The Dalton School entitled, STRESS, ANXIETY, AND DEPRESSION ON CAMPUS:  HOW TO HELP YOUR CHILD PREPARE FOR COLLEGE.  In the audience were parents of students in their junior and senior years of high school within the New York City independent school system. Through this first-of-its-kind event, panelists shared stories, research and statistics and provided mental health resources for parents as their children prepare to leave home.  The ultimate goal was to expand our network and de-stigmatize mental illness through education.  Participating on the panel was Justine Fonte, Director of Health and Wellness at The Dalton School; Hakeem Rahim, Ed.M, MA, Harvard graduate and mental health advocate; Katie Zorn, Fountain House board member; Michael Birnbaum, MD, Child and adolescent psychiatrist at Zucker Hillside and Lenox Hill Hospitals and myself, Jason Bowman, MPA, Director, College Re-Entry.

College Re-Entry Director presents at The Dalton School    
Panelists at The Dalton School interviewed by Health and Wellness Director, Justine Fonte
Since 75% of all lifetime cases of mental illness occur by age 24, it is imperative to educate as many young adults and their families about mental health challenges faced by college students today.  A common message throughout the presentation was that early detection and treatment are imperative to potentially reducing the severity and longevity of mental illness. First and foremost, early treatment may prevent the brain from experiencing multiple breakdowns, allowing itself to heal.  Neuroplasticity allows the neurons in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment (MedicineNet).  Further, by accepting treatment earlier, students and their families can take positive actions instead of getting caught in a vicious cycle of resistance, isolation & self-medicating. 


Justine Fonte of Dalton recommended that students find a counselor on campus immediately stating that “the worst time to find a therapist is when you really need one.” Hakeem Rahim credits his friends and family for getting the early treatment he needed so that he was able to return and graduate from Harvard.  I gave an overview of the College Re-Entry program explaining its importance should a medical leave become necessary.  I reminded the audience that while most colleges and universities offer short term counseling services, there are not adequate on campus resources for students with serious mental illness so off-campus resources were necessary to bridge the gap.  I was also able to provide information about on-campus peer led organizations such as Active Minds, The Jed Foundation and NAMI.  The program closed with a moving story written by Katie Zorn about her brother’s high school career at Dalton and the mental health challenges he experienced as a young adult.


The evening overall was a success with about 200 people in attendance from Dalton and the interschool associations.  We hope to make it an annual event.