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Errata (Errors in the book)

We were very careful in our scholarship. We double and triple checked academic references, quotes, stories about campus events, and anything else we could check. Pamela Paresky, our chief researcher, deserves much of the credit for the fact that by May 2020, when this page was created, hardly any errors have been found.


Nonetheless, nobody and nothing is perfect. On this page we present two kinds of errors: 1) true mistakes, and 2) statements that we would like to modify, based on knowledge gained after the publication of the book in September 2018.



1) True Mistakes

A) On p. 36 we credit Aaron Beck as the founder of CBT. We should also give credit to Albert Ellis, who created Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy in the 1950s.

B) On p. 156 we say: "A 2016 report by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health, using data from 139 colleges, found that by the 2015-2016 school year, half of all students surveyed reported having attended counseling for mental health concerns." Reader John Taylor thought this sounded too high. He dug into the work we cited and discovered that our sentence contains two errors: "1. This report describes college students receiving mental health services, NOT the general college student population.  2. This report is not a survey. The data summarized herein is gathered during routine clinical practice at participating counseling centers." It seems that what the report actually shows is that of all the schools that reported their numbers to CCMH, for the roughly 150,000 students who came in to counseling centers, half of that group reported having "attended counseling for mental health concerns." Because the students who visit campus counseling centers are not representative of the total population, it is clear that the true percentage of students who have previously "attended counseling" is well under 50%.

We will look into this further and update this sentence in a future printing of the book. We will also look for different measures of the prevalence of mental disorders in the overall college population, some of which can be found here. The most comprehensive recent publication on college student mental health seems to be Duffy, Twenge, & Joiner (2019) Trends in Mood and Anxiety Symptoms and Suicide-Related Outcomes Among U.S. Undergraduates, 2007-2018: Evidence From Two National Surveys. This analysis of two datasets on college student mental health shows large increases in rates of self reported "overwhelming anxiety" and "severe depression," so we were not wrong to suggest that half or more of college students are experiencing mental health problems. But our specific citation was wrong. 




C) On p. 128, Figure 6.1, "Issue Polarization," contains an error in the lower left corner. The line for "Religious Attendance" appears to start at 6, in 1994, while the line for "Age" appears to start at 5, in 1994. This appears to be an error introduced at a point in the publishing process as the original Pew graph, with multiple colors, was converted to a purely black-and-white graph. The text describing the graph in the paragraph above figure 6.1 is still correct: 
Only two of the lines show a clear increase. People who attend religious services regularly are now 11 points away from those who never attend, compared to just 5 points apart in 1994. But that 6-point increase is dwarfed by the 21-point increase in the distance between Republicans and Democrats over the same time period, nearly all of it occurring since 2004.
We thank astute reader Raj Katti for noticing the error. Katti also pointed out that without having examined the variance around each point in the graph, we should not have asserted that the 6 point increase in "religious attendance"  is a "clear increase," whereas the 4 point increase for "age" is not. He is right again. 

2) Statements we'd like to modify


A) In ch. 7, we discussed social media and "screen time." We covered the available research as it was in 2017 and concluded that social media was likely to be a substantial contributor to the rising mental health problems of Gen Z. We focused on social media, but we did also suggest that parents should consider limiting overall "screen time." Since we published the book, there has been an advance in the available research. "Screen time" is not as harmful as we thought, although the evidence that heavy use of social media is related to depression and anxiety, particularly for girls, and that the relationship is causal, not just correlational, seems to be solid. See a full discussion of this ongoing debate on our new page on Better Social Media.

duffy.depression rates college students.
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