National Depression Screening Day was held in the lobby of Founders Hall on Thursday, Oct. 7. With the week of Oct. 3 being Mental Illness Awareness Week, Cabrini’s Counseling and Psychological Services had free mental health screenings from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Dr. Sara Maggitti, director of counseling and psychological services at Cabrini College, said in an email interview that Cabrini began holding this event in order to raise awareness of mood disorders, specifically depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders, and to decrease stigma around mental illness and mental health treatment. Maggitti said that the depression screenings help identify students and community members alike who suffer with a mood disorder and then connect these individuals to mental health services.
The general consensus was that students thought that having free mental health screenings was a positive event to have on campus.
“I feel that it’s a very good idea,” Tyreece Powell, freshman communication major, said. “Bringing awareness to a lot of people like me. I’ve realized that I am a bit angry; maybe I could seek out some help.”
“I think it is a good idea to get the word out about depression,” Allie Jeter, sophomore psychology and communication major, said. “It was a good idea to have this event.”
Cabrini College has held the event on campus for at least the last six years, while local and national communities hold this event on an annual basis nationwide, according to Maggitti.
According to mentalhealthscreening.org, National Depression Screening Day is the nation’s oldest voluntary, community-based screening program that provides referral information for treatment.
“It helps make students aware [of depression],” Jared Franklin, sophomore graphic design major, said. “I don’t think people understand how depression can be, and if you need help you should get help for sure.”
Maggitti said it was a necessary event since approximately 50 percent of college students report feeling so depressed at some point in time that they have trouble functioning. Additionally, one in four college students will experience a depressive episode by age 24. This event offers an opportunity for students to screen to see if they may be at risk and to inform them about free mental health services available on campus.
Melany Masalski, freshman accounting major, said that there should be more free mental health screenings, explaining that not everyone could attend the Oct. 7 screening due to having a class at the same time as the event.
Jeter said that it is important to point out that someone’s sexual orientation often goes hand-in-hand with the symptoms of depression, noting that gay children are often bullied. Jeter goes on to say that Oct. 20 is ‘Wear Purple Day’ for the kids who have died from committing suicide due to being bullying because they were gay.
Powell said that the mental health of college students was underreported, citing the suicide death of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi. Clementi ended his life on Sept. 22 after his roommate and the roommate’s friend broadcasted videos of Clementi engaging in homosexual acts.
Franklin said that there is a large amount of stress because of the workload for classes, the high expectations that college places on students and peer pressure, and all of that stress contributes to causing depression symptoms in college students.
According to the literature that was handed out at the National Depression Screening Day table, mental illness often strikes individuals during adolescence and young adulthood. Behind accidents, suicide is the second leading cause of death in college students. By the age of 24, one out of four college students will experience a depressive episode.
Maggitti said that Active Minds, the student organization focused on increasing awareness of mental illness in college students, held a game night on Oct. 6.
“I’m happy that I was able to [take the screening], even though there may be nothing wrong,” Masalski said.