Depression screening helps students cope

One Kent State student was having trouble coping with her parents’ divorce and the breakup with her boyfriend of five years when she realized she needed help. This year, she’s got the tools to help her deal, thanks to a year of depression therapy.

Abby, who’s name has been changed for anonymity, attended last year’s National Depression Screening Day event in the Student Center, where she was diagnosed with clinical depression.

“It was like the walls were closing in on me, as if everything that had been so important to me was taken away,” Abby said.

Abby went to her best friend for advice. Her friend told Abby that she would go along with her to the depression screening for moral support.

“At first, I was worried that everyone there was going to look at me and say, ‘Hey, that girl must be here because she has some sort of issue, but there ended up being a huge turnout,” Abby said. “It made me feel like I wasn’t alone.”

Kent State screened approximately 650 students last year and offered referrals to those students in need of mental health services. The testing is free and open to Kent State students, faculty, staff and the larger Kent community.

National Depression Screening Day will take place today on the second floor of the Student Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The screening offers participants the opportunity to take part in a confidential screening for depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and post-traumatic stress. It is partly sponsored by the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated, which will be giving two students $250 scholarships for taking part in the screening.

John Schell, clinical psychologist for University Health Services, explained the importance of mental health for college students.

“Especially on the university campus, we know that college mental health has become a topic that has become more important,” Schell said. “We see students with more prevalent and more severe cases not only in depression, but other mental health issues as well.”

Schell said depression affects as many as 20 million Americans. However, the concentration is much higher in college students.

According to Archives of General Psychiatry, nearly 13 percent of college students have had some form of depression during a 12-month period. Jeff Ciesla, assistant professor of clinical psychology, said that depression comes from both environmental and hereditary causes.

“Depression is a monster that you can lose control of,” Ciesla said. “People can’t just snap out of major depression. So the earlier people get help, the better off they are.”

Abby has gone through one year of therapy and has remained on antidepressants. She hopes to be off the medication someday soon but decided it is best if she remain on them for the time being.

Abby said she found the screening very helpful and has offered her advice to students who may be wondering if it is worth seeking help.

“I would recommend every student go to the screening, even if they aren’t sure if they need the help. I think you owe that to yourself,” Abby said. “The most important thing for me was that I got the help that I needed.”

Jeff Ciesla, assistant professor of clinical psychology, listed off nine warning signs of major depression. They are as follows:

Excessive sadness

Lack of interest in life

Sleep disturbances

Changes in appetite

Psychomotor disturbances

Inappropriate guilt or worthlessness


Distraction and suicidal thoughts

Ciesla encourages that any student with at least five warning signs for a two-week time period should seek psychological assistance to prevent depression or a return of the mental state.

You can contact Kristen O’Brien and Megan Wilkinson at [email protected] and [email protected].