Check your brain and check your heart

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On Oct. 10, National Depression Screening Day (NDSD), Southern will be hosting a free depression screening test for all students and employees. Located in the student center between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Counseling Services and the University Health Center will provide free printed questionnaires for anyone who wishes to assess their mental health and likelihood for depression.

According to Southern counselor Tiffany Bartell, this event is intended to not only help students identify if they might be struggling with depressive symptoms, but to also increase all students’ access to the counseling services at Southern.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in four university students has a diagnosable mental illness, one in three students report prolonged periods of depression and depression is the number one reason given by students for dropping out of college. 

But research also shows that less than half of  students with a mental illness seek treatment. 

 “It’s important to know that you can just take the screen,”  Bartell said, “You don’t have to feel really bad to just check yourself. …Just be curious about yourself.” 

Some students have expressed their support towards the event. 

“I think it’s a great thing that they are doing. …I believe that this is a really good tool because a lot of college students don’t even realize that they are depressed,” said Ananda Glover, junior education major. “They could be just experiencing all these emotions and not know what the source is.”

NDSD was created and launched by educator and psychiatrist Douglas G. Jacobs, M.D. in 1991. In 1994, Jacobs created Screening for Mental Health, which is now called Mindwise, a nonprofit organization aimed at providing suicide prevention for youth training and behavioral health screening for adults.

According to Lisa K. Desai, spokesperson from Mindwise, the motivation behind NSDS started in a Boston emergency room.

“During his residency rotation in a Boston area emergency room, Dr. Jacobs noticed that while mental health issues might co-occur with medical urgent care visits, there was no mechanism to screen for mental health problems. This led Dr. Jacobs to institute a national awareness day which would create awareness about the need to self-assess for depression and encourage people to take a screen and check-in with their mental health,” Desai said.

Desai went on to explain the apparent need for this national awareness day.

“Stigma and stereotypes create barriers to discussing mental health issues. And Dr. Jacobs recognized that by sparking a national discussion regarding depression we can decrease this stigma.

“National Depression Screening Day was one of the first awareness days of its kind,” Desai said.

Twenty-eight years later, hundreds of schools, universities and community-based organizations nationwide have taken part in the initiative to help address and reduce mental health stigma on NDSD.

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