Depression Week Raises Awareness

El Vaquero Staff Writer

Depression is an often ignored disease that affects more than half of all college students. To raise awareness, free depression screenings were offered as an important part of the Psychology Club’s Depression Awareness Week.

“Depression Week is about bringing knowledge to the students because it [depression] is under diagnosed. About 51% of college students are depressed,” said Christina Liang, 18, a member of the Psychology Club.

As a result of these statistics, the club brings in professional psychologists to perform annual screenings.

“This is the third year we have done this,” said psychologist professor and Psychology Club Professor Jessica Gillooly. Nine psychologists from Southern California were present this year to assist students. The screenings took place on Wednesday, Oct.16, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the San Rafael Plaza.

Questions such as “Do you ever blame yourself for a problem?”; “Is there a problem that is affecting your school, work, and friends?” and “Have you ever thought about suicide?” were in the questionnaire presented to students as a part of the scan.

After filling out these personal questions, the individual hands it to the psychologist for evaluation, and in turn, the psychologist explains and helps the student understand the results.

“People think that it [screenings] is a negative thing, but it’s just a way to get help,” said former Psychology Club president, Jason Saboury, 19. An estimated 200 students showed up for the assessment.

“The process is not a long one, it usually depends on how serious the case is,” said Psychology Club president, Sandra Ramos, 21. According to Ramos, there is usually one serious case. Last year a student on the verge of suicide was diagnosed and received the help he needed.

Candy was laid out on the table for those partaking in the screenings.

“Whatever helps relax them,” said club vice president, Erika Ramirez, 21. Some students hesitated while others readily filled out questionnaires and others observed with curiosity.

“Most students do not know that they have depression and those that have some idea of it want to see how bad it has affected them,” said Ramos.

It took considerable planning by the club members to get this activity started.

“We’ve been planning this whole event since last semester,” said Ramirez. “The whole thing takes about three to four months to plan. We need to get the school’s permission, and they give you a kit to help you get started,” said Ramirez.

Self-help pamphlets on depression, available in a variety of languages, were spread out on the tables staffed by the club volunteers. This material provided statistics and explanations on the specific types of depression that occur frequently among young adults.

The importance and main purpose of the analysis is to give people a chance to be conscious of depression and to let them know that there are people out there willing to help.

“In order to overcome it, you need to be aware of it, be aware of what it is and where it comes from,” said Ramos.

According to Ramos, most people are embarrassed to admit that they have a problem and are unable to get the help that they need.
“We are encouraging mental wellness,” said Saboury.

The impressive turnout proved the screenings to be a success.
“I found out a couple things about myself that I already knew but I wasn’t willing to admit,” said Denise Ramos, 18, a student who participated in the screening. “I’m glad that I took it [screening]. It really helped me.”