Raising Red Flags: National Depression Awareness Month


Brayden Wadsworth, 13 from Twinsburg, wrote on an easel at the Portage county National Alliance for Mental Illness Walk for Recovery, which raised awareness about those who suffer from mental illness. Brayden’s sister has bipolar disorder, and his younger brother is autistic. Photo by Jacob Byk

Megan Wilkinson

About three years ago, Kala Hagenbush, a 19-year-old Kent resident, was diagnosed with psychosis, schizophrenia and ADHD. Hagenbush, now 22, also had suicidal thoughts because of her mental illnesses.

Hagenbush is one of thousands who are diagnosed with mental health illnesses — including depression — each year. She said it’s difficult to describe the experiences she had when she was first diagnosed, but it “felt like hell.”

Soon after, Hagenbush sought help at Coleman Professional Services in Kent to get past her suicidal tendencies. She has been working with case manager Ashley Dewiel, who said Hagenbush’s mental health is improving with each visit.

“Not only has Hagenbush become more mentally stable, but she is also learning to be an independent adult living in her own apartment with a roommate,” Dewiel said.

For other depressed patients, especially college students, Dewiel said the mental health problems are often linked to increased stress levels — an observation echoed by Kent State police officer Michquel Penn.

The Kent State Police Department receives a couple of calls each week regarding mental health issues, Penn said, but the university receives the most calls related to depression or suicide during the last few weeks of the semester.

“They’re typically calls during finals week or the end of fall or spring semester — when students are dealing with the pressures of school,” she said.

For students who think they or someone they know might be depressed, Kent State is hosting free depression screenings from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday on the second floor of the Student Center. Thursday is National Depression Screening Day, and October is National Depression Awareness Month.

Finding help:

  • Ask questions and create dialogue. If you notice someone showing signs of depression, try asking, “Do you ever feel so bad that you think about suicide?”
  • Call a suicide help line with the person you think is depressed. Help him or her through it in a non-judgmental, non-confrontational manner.
  • Never hide a friend’s or your own plans for suicide.
  • —from Michquel Penn, Kent state police officer, and Janelle Montano, speaker for mental health advocacy group Active Minds

Red Flags of depression:

  • Person stays at home without leaving for long periods of time.
  • Person has become quicker to anger or has frequent mood swings. His or her behavior is not like it used to be.
  • Person acts more anxious or agitated, and might behave recklessly.
  • Person might increase his or her use of alcohol, drugs or cigarettes.
  • Person feels trapped or has unbearable pain. Depression can be heavy and can become physical if it’s unaddressed.
  • Person is actively looking for a way to kill him or herself, or is talking about wanting to die.

Places to go:

On campus:

  • Psychological Services at the Deweese Health Center; students can schedule appointments to receive counseling or therapy.
  • Counseling and Human Development Center at White Hall; students can receive free, confidential counseling.
  • Psychological Clinic in Kent Hall; students can meet with master’s and doctoral students, along with a clinical faculty member who is a licensed psychologist, to receive therapy, advice and assessments of mental health for things like ADHD, learning disabilities, intellectual levels or giftedness.

Student support groups:

  • To Write Love on Her Arms
  • Active Minds: The mental health advocacy group recently launched Post Secret U at Kent State where students can submit their secrets or feelings on postcards, and the postcards will be displayed on campus in November.

Off campus:

  • Townhall II, a suicide risk intervention clinic with a crisis hotline
  • Coleman Access Center, which offers 24-hour help
  • Family and Community Services in Kent, which offers counseling

Contact Megan Wilkinson at [email protected].