Kent State to hold free depression screenings

Kent State will host its 25th annual National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) on Oct. 3 by offering free depression screenings for students, staff, faculty and the community. 

The screenings will take place the same day at the Kent, Ashtabula, Geauga and Stark campuses. For Kent campus students, the screenings will be held on the second-floor mezzanine of the Kent Student Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Participants of the free in-person screenings will complete a 15 to 20 minute questionnaire, which screens for several disorders: depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Then participants will review their results with one of the mental health clinicians available. 

Carrie Berta, staff psychologist at University Health Services, said there will also be referrals and information about mental illness.

“We want students to be aware of what they need to do to stay healthy and to know the resources available if they struggle with their mental health or if they need to support a friend or loved one,” she said.

The screenings do not provide participants with a diagnosis; however, based on the scores, feedback and discussion, participants may be referred to campus mental health resources and assisted with making an appointment if needed, Berta said. 

Also, there is a free online screening module for all Kent students who are unable to take an in-person screening. The online screening module is available throughout the year at any time and provides confidentiality to individuals besides feedback, referrals and resources. 

“This helps our students to be able to recognize the signs that a friend may be distressed and makes them aware of the potential resources they can use to support a friend or to receive help for themselves,” Berta said.  

NDSD is a part of Mental Illness Awareness Week, which takes place on the first Thursday of the first full week in October to raise awareness for common mental health disorders and suicide prevention.  

Adjusting to adulthood, managing finances and homesickness can all be factors for depression among college students. According to National Institute of Mental Health, 13.1 percent of typical college aged adults meet the criteria for depression.

“Sometimes students put too much pressure on themselves or have unrealistic expectations,” said John Schell, senior psychologist at University Health Services. “If they do not live up to those expectations, they get disappointed and self-critical. When this happens, it can negatively affect self-esteem and contribute to depression.” 

Around 500 participants were screened at last year’s event, Berta said, and this year they are aiming to help more people.

“Our goals for this outreach event are to raise awareness of mental health concerns, to provide an opportunity for students to be screened and to offer participants individualized feedback from a mental health clinician,” Berta said. 

Contact Shams Mustafa at [email protected].