Many students reading this know the feeling: two essays due tomorrow, three tests on Thursday, and several assignments due over the next few days. And who can forget other assorted after-school activities, like dance, sports, or jobs? Not only that, problems with friends, family, or other relationships may just add to worries.
Sometimes, students might just feel like collapsing with feelings of intense stress and inescapable sadness. Luckily, school officials are taking notice of this epidemic that strikes thousands of college students across the country. According to the National College Health Assessment in fall of 2006, 9.4 percent of the 23,000 students in the survey reported seriously considering attempted suicide at least once in a 12 month period.
More recently, in a 2009 spring poll conducted by mtvU and Associated Press “College Stress and Mental Health Poll,” 70 percent of 2,200 students across 40 different universities reported that they have not considered talking to a counselor about dealing with stress.
It is unfortunate that so many college students have feelings of depression and sadness that doesn’t go away, and in the midst of it they may attempt to shake it off by thinking, “I’ll get over it on my own,” or, “It will go away.” Undiagnosed depression can potentially lead to chronic feelings of unhappiness, stress, and hopelessness which can eventually trigger thoughts of suicide.
What are universities doing to help? As part of Mental Illness Awareness Week, schools that across the nation are participating in the National Depression Screening Day, which is held every October.
The purpose of the anonymous screening is to provide an opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to become aware of any psychological disorders they may have, such as underlying depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, or general anxiety disorder. It is not meant to diagnose, but merely to offer helpful resources for students who potentially have these disorders and possibly recommend further analysis by a mental health professional.
“It’s a way for students to have their questions answered in a comfortable environment,” says Susan Gekas, a counselor at Normandale.
The screening consists of a short survey that takes about twenty minutes to complete. Students can answer these questions based on their own thoughts and feelings, or they can even take the survey for someone in their life who they have concerns relating to depression or severe anxiety issues. However, students shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that the National Depression Screening is all storm clouds.
The atmosphere consists of people whose one priority is to offer guidance and resources for students who participate in the screening. Everything is completely anonymous, so no student has to fear being judged or singled-out for any reason.
Happily, Normandale Community College is holding a National Depression Screening on October 14, 2010, in the Nath Career and Academic Planning Center. Students are welcome to come in anytime from 10:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. and take the survey. They will be assigned a number upon receiving a questionnaire, and will be given space to answer the questions.
Their survey will immediately be evaluated, and several specialists, therapists, and counselors will be ready to offer guidance and resources based on the results. Students will be able to ask any questions they may have, and will be pointed in the right direction to receive help.
Within the next few weeks, a confidential online version will be available with emphasis placed on other disorders. Look for updates on the ‘Counseling’ section of the NCC website. Also, there is no cost for anything!
The National Depression Screening is just one step to helping students in many schools get assistance with mental disorders and stress management. Because of the feelings of anxiety that plagues many students, schools are stepping up to the plate to help with these issues. Normandale is, clearly, no exception.
-- Shelby Johnson