National Depression Screening Day

McLaren holds free screenings to raise awareness
Mel Buskirk
Copy Editor
depression2October 8 was National Depression Screening Day, and to celebrate the day McLaren health professionals partnered with St. Clair County Community Mental Health to offer free depression screenings at SC4.
Students gathered in an enclosed section in the back of the cafeteria to sip on coffee and nibble on cookies and other sweets while filling out a confidential questionnaire. The questionnaire listed off symptoms of not only depression, but of anxiety, bipolar disorder, and PTSD as well.
Students handed the completed questionnaire to one of the several counselors available. Then they were taken to a different room to talk about their symptoms and given resources to contact and receive professional help if the counselors and students agreed if it was necessary.
Several students took advantage of the free service including Kayla Flanagan, 22, Liberal Arts major. “Like many, I had an idea there might be a problem, but I wanted to make sure,” Flanagan stated. She was able to receive contact information and counseling through the screening.
Flanagan also remarked that the screening was very helpful to students since the event was free and it was open for a long period of time from 9 am to 5 pm, which allowed students more opportunities to attend between classes and work.
“You can’t have a healthy learning environment without having an opportunity to get help when they (the students) need it,” said Flanagan.
Amy Kandell, a supervisor and therapist from St. Clair County Community Mental Health, was one of the counselors present to assist the students. While she was there to screen students for potential mental ailments, Kandell also wanted to raise awareness of mental health disorders and reduce the negative attitudes surrounding them.
“I think it’s really important to reduce stigma around mental health disorders,” Kandell said. “A lot of people struggle to seek help because of the negative stigma.”
In order to reduce this stigma, Kandell believes that education is the key. “Education is really important. We should be starting at a young age and giving kids correct information about mental health disorders.” She continued to say that we should compare mental illnesses within the medical model in which we treat mental disorders like one would treat a broken limb.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health’s website, www.nimh.nih.gov, a study done in 2011 by the American College Health Association in students in both 2 and 4 year colleges concluded that 30% of students felt “so depressed it was difficult to function” within the past year of the study. Depression is a leading risk factor for suicide. The study also found that 6% of students contemplated suicide within the past year and almost 1% of students actually attempted suicide within that past year. Depression is not uncommon in college students.
College students aren’t the only ones that can suffer from depression or other mental health disorders. People of any age, race, gender or background can be afflicted by mental health disorders.
Symptoms of depression and other health disorders include (but are not limited to): confused thinking, prolonged sadness or irritability, feelings of extreme highs or lows, excessive fears or anxieties, social withdrawal, dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits, strong feelings of anger, delusions or hallucinations, growing inability to cope with daily problems or activities, suicidal thoughts, denial of obvious problems, numerous unexplained physical ailments, or substance abuse.
If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the listed symptoms above, there is help available. The Thumb Access Mental Health Crisis Line is open 24/7 and can be reached at 1-(888)-225-4447. Professionals will be able to talk you through mental health crises such as suicidal thoughts, anxiety attacks, or substance abuse. They can also direct you to a proper health facility or professional near you to help you get the help you need.

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