National Depression Screening Day raises mental health awareness on campus

Grace Berchem

Lawrence held its annual National Depression Screening Monday, Oct. 4. The Wellness Committee and the Counseling Center hosted this event as part of Mental Health Awareness Week. By raising mental health awareness, these groups hope to break the stigma surrounding mental illness.
The screening consisted of a short survey targeted at identifying potential symptoms of depression, general anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
After filling out this survey, students had the opportunity to meet with a counselor to discuss the results. More than a quarter of the students who participated were encouraged to follow up by making an appointment with a counselor.
The screening itself was anonymous, but data and statistics from the survey are collected each year for Lawrence’s use. This information is helpful to both the Wellness Committee and Counseling Center so they can guide programming in ways that reflect the needs of the Lawrence community. In addition, every year the Counseling Center compiles information about why students seek counseling.
Director of Counseling Services Kathleen Fuchs said, “The number one reason is always stress. Number two is relationships.”
Fuchs stated, “We’re here to talk about stress and talk about what’s on their mind, not just mental health disorders. There is a lot of overlap in what people feel, and we don’t diagnose here.”
Cases of mental illness are rapidly growing in the United States, and college students are at high risk. In light of this fact, it is especially important to raise awareness of these issues on a campus like Lawrence, where so many students have constant academic, extracurricular and social demands.
According to the National College Health Assessment, 15 percent of Lawrence students are treated for depression, while 13 percent are treated for anxiety.
“Lawrence does respond to mental health issues,” said Wellness Committee member Maggie Schmidt ’12.
Schmidt added, “Sometimes it is really hard for people to ask for help. We [at the Wellness Committee] hope to foster the Lawrence community so people can help each other and get the help they need.”
Because the National Depression Screening Day is meant to raise awareness, the survey is also available online through Lawrence’s Counseling Center page. In addition to depression, generalized anxiety, bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorder, the online survey includes questions about alcohol abuse and eating disorders.
For those seeking more information, the Counseling Center offers many resources, including further reading material, counseling by appointment and walk-in counciling hours at 1 p.m. for more urgent matters.