Kent State hosts depression screening today

Kira Meixner

Kent State Psychological Services and University Health Services are sponsoring National Depression Screening Day today. Screening is available to students, faculty, staff and community members from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the second floor of the Kent Student Center. John Schell, a psychologist at the DeWeese Health Center, said depression screening can raise awareness among students.

“It is an important outreach to help students be more aware of the problem on college campuses,” Schell said, “and also to highlight services that are available so they know where to turn should they be struggling with the issue.”

A 2003 study conducted by University Health Services and the College of Education reported that 49 percent of Kent State students said they were so depressed that it was difficult to function, Schell said. The same study reported that 20 percent of Kent State students said depression or anxiety was severe enough to impact their academic performance.

Schell said the information proves true for today too, but students are more eager to ask for help.

“The stigma of seeking help for depression has decreased,” Schell said. “Because it is a relatively common experience on campus, students are more willing to seek services that will help them.”

Those who attend the screening will fill out a form with questions related to depression, bipolar disorder, general anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Clinicians will score the results and individuals will have the opportunity to meet with a staff member to receive feedback and discuss possible concerns.

The clinicians are staff members from Psychological Services, doctors and nurses from University Health Services and graduate students from the clinical psychology program, school psychology program and the Counseling and Human Development


Graduate assistant Allison Bruce, who will be working at National Depression Screening Day for the second time, said it is important for people with depression to know they are not alone.

“It’s a really good way to interact with students and staff on a different level,” Bruce said. “Some individuals may feel like they are the only one in the world with signs and symptoms of depression, so it is good to see other people going through the same thing.”

Bruce also said the screening helps individuals detect depression symptoms like sleep disturbance and fatigue.

“It is the biggest way to detect depression early, and to help identify depression in people who aren’t recognizing it, because the symptoms are similar to things students may expect to experience in college,” Bruce said.

Individuals who participate in today’s screening can register to win prizes, Schell said. The prizes include an iPod nano donated by the Kent State Apple Store, one of two $200 scholarships donated by Coca-Cola or gift certificates provided by local restaurants and businesses.

Contact health and medical reporter Kira Meixner at [email protected].

When: Today, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Second floor of the Student Center

Who: Screening is available to students, faculty, staff and community members.

Campus offers counseling options

Allison Bray

A feeling of hopelessness or helplessness. A change in appetite and sleeping habits. Not going to class and falling grades. A lack of energy, motivation or drive.

These are all potential clues a person is suffering from depression.

The good news is that there are places on campus students can turn to get the help they need.

Psychological Services, located on the second floor of the DeWeese Health Center, offers therapy and medication for students who may need it. The health center evaluates a person’s symptoms and history and formulates a plan for recovery.

“Depression has a lot of different components and may be caused by a variety of factors,” said John Schell, a psychologist at DeWeese.

Other symptoms could include being angry and irritable or apathetic. In extreme cases, these feelings can lead to thoughts of suicide.

“To warrant a diagnosis of clinical depression, symptoms have to persist for two weeks or longer,” Schell said.

While depression can go away on its own, that is not typical, he said.

“Without treatment, depression often gets worse and the likelihood of future depressive episodes increases,” Schell said.

Most people get depression because of things happening in their environment. “Most people have reactive (depression) … which means the depression is caused by situational factors,” Schell said.

Some of these factors could include family issues, unmet academic expectations, a lack of good social support or relationships gone wrong.

In some cases, therapy is not enough.

“If the symptoms significantly interfere with daily functioning, medication may be worth considering,” Schell said. “Medication is most helpful with the immediate symptoms, while therapy is more effective in the long run.”

However, medication should always complement therapy, he said.

Students can also visit the psychological clinic at 176 Kent Hall. The clinic is staffed by graduate students who are supervised by Ph.D. psychologists, and services are free to Kent State students.

When students first visit the clinic, they fill out a basic questionnaire about themselves, their family and why they are seeking help. They are assigned a therapist based on their need and the therapist’s concentration. The student then meets with the therapist so they can get to know each other. A second meeting focuses more on the individual’s symptoms.

Information from both meetings is gathered and put into a report, and a week or two later, the individual starts therapy.

Michael Moore, assistant director at the clinic, said there is a common misconception that individuals can just walk in and start immediately.

The preliminary procedure is for the benefit of the client and to make sure the therapist is appropriate for the situation, he said.

Moore said students should not wait until things are really bad to seek help. “(Individuals should) try and come in when they first notice things are a little off,” he said.

This saves the individual from reaching a very low point, he said.

If someone wants to encourage a friend to get help, Moore said it is ultimately up to the individual, and they may be defensive at the suggestion they may need help.

“Emphasize you’re doing it for their benefit,” he said. “The goal is not to be right, the goal is to get your friend help.”

Moore also said that the first time help is brought up, the depressed person might not be receptive to it.

“Don’t think the first time you have that discussion it’s the be all and end all.”

The clinic does not offer medication, and will make a referral to the health center if medication is necessary.

While medication is helpful for someone who is severely depressed or suicidal and for whom therapy has not been successful, there are some downsides.

Medication is not a cure, and individuals may have to take it for the rest of their lives, Moore said. It also has side effects which some may find to be intolerable, he added.

Depression is not a character flaw or weakness, Schell said.

“Individuals who are struggling with depression are not alone,” he said.

Contact health and medical reporter Allison Bray at [email protected].