Genetic Testing: A Key Campus Resource for Mental Health

10/12/2015 04:08 pm ET Updated Oct 12, 2016

Mental illness is among the biggest issues today's college campuses are struggling with. Often times it isn't until after something devastating happens -- a suicide, a shooting -- that we learn mental illness was a factor, but by then it's too late to give it the attention it deserves. Every day, there are students struggling with mental health issues, many undiagnosed until something happens to alert them or their loved ones to a condition.

Research conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness found that one in four college students have a diagnosable mental illness. Half of them say they have been so anxious they struggled in school. Clinics on campuses are chronically understaffed and overwhelmed.

That's why it's important to point out as we have just held Mental Illness Awareness Week and World Mental Health Day.

This year there is indeed some revolutionary news to share on the mental health front as genetic testing is helping clinicians optimize treatment decisions for their patients with mental illness.

This testing identifies patient-specific genetic markers that indicate which treatments are likely to work as intended, have no effect or cause adverse effects.

It's an easily administered cheek swab test that analyzes key genes, selected based on hundreds of studies showing that variations in these genes can inform treatment decisions. The test results can help guide treatment for a range of psychiatric conditions, including depression, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar disorder, PTSD and schizophrenia.

Does it work? Genomind's Genecept Assay has been shown in peer-reviewed published studies to improve patient outcomes and reduce overall medical costs.

Imagine how empowering it would be for students, their families and campuses to be aware of potential predispositions and be prepared with the right support.

We don't need to wait for another student suicide or campus shooting to appreciate the value of this amazing breakthrough.

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If you -- or someone you know -- need help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.