Like I’ve written in the past, I’m continually amazed at the type of productions that go on at Duke University. Believe it or not, I was able to host Duke’s weekly talk show called “Office Hours” on November 17, 2011. “Office Hours” is streamed live on UStream every week Thursdays at noon and then uploaded to YouTube to be viewed at one’s convenience. “Office Hours” is mostly promoted through Duke Alumni Association, as well as Duke Media Services, but the audience is expanding week by week. Just as the name suggests, the purpose of “Office Hours” is to let students, faculty, alumni and parents listen to conversations that are taking place on Duke’s campus. Viewers can send in questions to be part of the conversation. The idea of my involvement with the show has been in development for many months and started at the beginning of the school year. I initially applied for a social media internship and though I didn’t get the internship, my interviewer referred me to more production-based work with the show “Office Hours.” I’ve gotten to know the staff very well and have watched the past five shows grow into its own audience and style. The episodes usually have a different interviewer and each interviewee brings to the table his/her own flair and knowledge. Afterall, each episode features an important, topical subject. Each week brings a new host and new guests. On my episode, I brought the student voice to the show and I hope that I represented my colleagues fairly.

The topic I dealt with on “Office Hours” was not a light topic. “Campus Mental Health Issues” are serious issues and it is real and prominent. I talked with Dr. Glass, who is the Assistant Director of Outreach and Programming for Duke’s Counseling and Psychological Services (also known as CAPS), throughout the show. The end result is posted below, and though I am extrememly satisfied with it, I spent many hours researching and gearing up for the show. I had two sessions with producers from the show to roleplay the conversation and tweak my script. However, once you sit down in the hosting chair – all script notes fly out of the window. As soon as the show began, my adrenaline overcame by body and all that was left was Dr. Glass and myself. Though I stumbled on my words here and there, I felt I did pretty well for my first time hosting a live long-form talk show (and it’s not an easy task)!

I learned a lot about mental health for college students while I was preparing for this conversation. A common misconception is that everyone is happy here at Duke, at least that’s what it looks like to outsiders. Students cheer on their beloved Blue Devils in Cameron, walk through the beautiful Duke Gardens, converse with fellow students with meaningful dialogue. Though this sounds ideal, this is unfortunately not the case for much of the student population. For example, in a recent study, the American Psychological Association reported a rise in depression and mental illnesses on college campuses. The percentage of students with moderate to severe depression has gone up from 34 to 41 percent in the past 10 years. The American College Health Association assessed colleges across campuses and published shocking statistics such as over the last 12 months, 26.9% of males and 33.3% of females felt so depressed that it was difficult to function and “40.5% of males and 56% of females felt overwhelming anxiety. At Duke, it’s an even more crazed environment, and the situation is often amplified.

Many students at Duke feel they have to follow this Duke mentality of “work hard, play hard” which is mentioned in the upcoming Duke Magazine’s November/December cover story titled “Pressures Beneath the Surface.” Many students believe everyone else is succeeding at balancing their academic and social life, while doing so effortlessly. However, Bridget Booher writes in her article, that in reality, many students feel alone at Duke and experience periods of isolation and this is actually the majority of the population (called the marginalized majority). The current generation of students often experiences a strong fear of failure. We hold ourselves to such high standards and create these ideal expectations because everyone else seems to be doing the same thing at Duke. This fear can turn into either self controlling behaviors (such as eating disorders) or avoidance (which can lead to alcohol abuse or other issues). Dr. Glass hits on these subjects throughout the interview.

I don’t want to spoil the rest of the conversation, but we talked about some pretty serious and meaningful topics. Instead of going into more depth, I urge you to check out “Campus Mental Health Issues” that was presented on “Office Hours” this past week.