Depression affecting young
Changes in appetite, sleep habits and weight and feelings of irritability, hopelessness and prolonged sadness are all symptoms of depression. This affects many students across college campuses, but universities are working against it.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, more Americans suffer from depression than coronary heart disease, cancer and HIV or AIDS. Approximately 15 percent of the population will suffer from clinical depression at some point.
Director of Counseling, Testing and Health Services Nate Williams sees the prevalence of depression and other mental disorders on campus by visiting CollegeResponse.org. This site allows him to view data, not names of people, when determining how many students are affected.
“When I see that that number is up and that number is a lot higher than what our client load is here, that tells me that there’s a lot of people out there that have this (depression) are not coming in. You need to come in,” he said.
Williams revealed crisis walk-ins are up 30 percent compared to last year, and other college campuses are experiencing the same.
UMHB showed its awareness about depression when Counseling, Testing and Health Services participated in National Depression Screening Day Oct. 7. Student workers passed out cards, with the website students can visit for a mental health self-assessment at www.CollegeResponse.org.
The online mental health screening is anonymous and available at any time to anyone. Students can test for depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and alcohol and substance abuse disorders.
Williams also encourages residence directors and assistants to use this tool if they encounter students going through a rough time.
Residence staff receives training for dealing with suicidal residents through Question Persuade Refer. It’s designed to help a person who may be considering suicide — the second leading cause of death among college students.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 30 percent of all clinically depressed patients attempt suicide. Ultimately, half of them succeed.
Associate Professor of graduate psychology and counseling Ty Leonard described how UMHB deters students from experiencing emotions associated with depression through campus ministries and events like Pancake Supper and Play Day.
He said, “These might not directly address depression but are certainly aids that help people deal with things that lead to depression, such as being away from home for the first time and feeling isolated.”
Leonard explained how challenging it is for people to realize they have depression.
“Often times, it’s hard to identify when (they’re) depressed because everybody feels sad,” he said. “Sometimes the hardest thing is identifying that (they) have depression and it’s going to be difficult to handle.”
Sometimes people do not recognize they have depression and wait too long to get help because of assumptions.
“There’s that feeling of everybody must go through this, and (they) assume that everybody copes with it on their own,” he said.
Sophomore accounting major Audrey Ohendalski does not have depression but has seen the perils of it through someone in her life.
“A lot of times whenever I feel like people are depressed they turn … to medicine and drugs … but I don’t think … that’s always the best (solution),” she said.
Ohendalski believes in building relationships.
She said, “That’s why I was talking about developing relationships with people… and trying to put worth back into them.”
Depression is painful but help is out there. Ohendalski said, “When people are depressed, it hurts.”