Kent State addresses mental health on National Depression Screening Day

Kelsey Meszaros

Students, faculty and staff had a chance to check their mental health on campus Thursday for National Depression Screening Day.

Held free of charge by Psychological Services every October, the purpose of the event is to raise awareness on mental health issues.

John Schell, a senior psychologist for University Health Services, said the screenings help members of the Kent State population identify any personal mental health concerns and link them to the services they need for help.

“I think it allows students to know that there are a lot of different options on campus in terms of psyche help,” Schell said.

This is Kent State’s 23rd year running the event. The screenings took place on the second floor of the Student Center.

Regional campuses including Kent State Stark, Trumbull and the College of Podiatric Medicine joined the movement to fight the stigma surrounding mental health care.

“I like that we’re doing the screening and I like that other Kent campuses are now doing it,” said Brooke Boyd, a senior health care administration major and volunteer for the screenings. “Everyone thinks of health as like a cold or flu, but they don’t really think of wellness as your mind and emotions. I think a lot of people are afraid to talk about it because it’s such a taboo topic.”

The screening involved a questionnaire given to participants, which checks for depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. The questionnaire was scored by a student volunteer, and participants then spoke with a clinician about their scores and options to receive help.

“I volunteer at these kind of events because they have an important meaning to me,” said Mallory Schmelzer, a junior integrated language arts major and volunteer for the screenings. “I think mental health awareness is really important, especially on a college campus because the pressure is on when you’re in school. I love events like these where you can just help people get the help that they need.”

Some students attended the screening to get questions answered regarding their mental health.

“I have had suspicions that I may have anxiety and maybe even depression,” said Laura Damron, a freshman entrepreneurship major. “It’s a pretty big health problem and it could affect not (only) an individual personally, but a friend or a family member for the rest of their life. It’s not a fun way to live.”

Scott Dotterer, the coordinator for Student Health Promotion, said the screenings and events that tackle mental health issues require extensive planning.

“Last year they had well over 600 people go through the screening,” Dotterer said. “It’s a good reflection where people understand how important it is to be proactive about your health and well-being.”

Elizabeth Garlinger, a communication studies graduate student and a volunteer for the screenings, points out the screenings are not a diagnosis, but a tool to help people understand their mental health.

“For the scorings, all of the material is testing certain items that would indicate an interest on the mental health spectrum, so ranging from anxiety, depression, multiple personality disorder,” Garlinger said. “It’s not a diagnostic tool of, ‘If you score X then you are blank.’”

Three clinics on campus offer a range of services students can take advantage of, Schell said. These include individual therapy, counseling and psychiatry.

These services are available in the DeWeese Health Center, Kent Hall and White Hall. Students can also visit the University Health Services website for more information on treatments.

“It’s extraordinarily difficult to be a successful student if you’re struggling with a mental disorder,” Garlinger said. “It’s not something that just goes away overnight; it’s not a cold. By addressing it sooner than later will really help out in making sure you’re choosing the life you want and living about it in the best way you possibly can.”

Kelsey Meszaros is the student affairs reporter. Contact her at [email protected].