According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 percent of adults in the U.S. report symptoms of depression. Half of these are under the age of 20. These numbers suggest that many students at Southern struggle with depression, and the university recently put a spotlight on this problem during National Depression Screening Day.
All day long on October 6, Counseling Services sought to raise awareness of its on-campus support by offering free depression screenings and information at a booth in the Student Center. The screenings only took about three minutes. After finishing, students privately reviewed their results with a counselor who made recommendations for how to best proceed.
Dessie Hoelzel, a social work graduate student, assisted with the booth and said the experience was a great success.
“A lot of students came by,” Dessie said. “It was a great way for our school to pull together and address an issue that doesn’t receive as much attention as it should.”
These screenings have provided positive results in the past as well. Liane de Souza, Counseling Services coordinator, said in previous years they have detected depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder early enough to quickly and effectively support students in need.
“If we encounter something life threatening, we take care of it right away,” de Souza said.
In addition to the annual screening, Counseling Services also offers other resources for students that are available year round, including one-on-one counseling sessions, educational workshops, and an on-campus psychiatrist. But even with these tools at their disposal, many students fail to see the need to reach out for help. It is for this very reason that faculty, staff, resident assistants, and mentors are trained each year to recognize at-risk students, de Souza said.
According to Jennifer Nestell, clinical director for the masters of social work program, some of the biggest red flags for students suffering from depression are a drop in class attendance and a decrease in the quality of their work. And although she understands the pressure to keep struggles private and unnoticed, it’s time for that to change.
“There is no shame in this area of personal struggle,” Nestell said. “Many of our students suffer from a deep wound of perfectionism, and the sooner they can see that ‘imperfection is beauty,’ the better.”