National Depression Screening Day


Jack Belcher

Bernadette Miles helps herself to some of the free refreshments provided during the event.

Jack Belcher, News Editor

Living with a mental illness such as depression or anxiety is extremely difficult, although common, especially around a college campus. Most college students are living on their own for the first time, and on top of taking care of themselves, they must keep up with the high expectations that they put upon themselves as well as the expectations of those close to them. They have to deal with the knowledge that they could let themselves, and those close to them, down.

The CWU Wellness Center is aware of this, and offers free resources to students. These resources include the Wellness Center itself, the Student Medical and Counseling Clinic (SMaCC) and Mindful Mondays, a once-a-week 20-minute session designed to relieve any stress that students might be carrying. Mindful Monday sessions are run by Bernadette Miles, a student at CWU majoring in public health with a specialization in nursing. On Thursday, Oct. 11, Miles set up an event in the SURC Pit to raise awareness for National Depression Day, called “Love is Louder.”

According to a Healthy Minds campus survey conducted by the Wellness Center, 38 percent of students have flourishing mental health under the Dieners Flourishing Scale. According to the Wellness Center, this survey consisted of 1,159 students, and 15 percent of these students met the criteria for severe depression.

Due to these numbers and the fact that most people struggling with a mental illness are unaware of it, the “Love is Louder” event had an anonymous screening survey designed to test for mental illnesses such as depression. This survey is also available online at the CWU Wellness Center website. The survey is free and anonymous, and according to the Wellness Center, 385 students took the survey from Sept. 19 to Oct. 12.

According to Erin Reeh, Health Education Coordinator at the Wellness Center, mental illness is a growing national problem.

Raven Kammeyer, a third year student majoring in music performance, has struggled with depression in the past. At the start of 2016, Kammeyer had a personal issue that led to her depression.

“From then on I was really just in a funk, and I could just feel it. It was very draining, like a constant fog in my head,” Kammeyer said.

Kammeyer said that her symptoms included extreme tiredness and strange eating habits that ranged from not eating at all to eating as much as she could for hours straight.  Kammeyer said that her depression lasted around six months, and she didn’t seek out professional help. Eventually the passage of time helped, as well as the seasonal change from winter to spring and eventually summer.

“I had friends that I talked to a little bit about it,” Kammeyer said. “Mostly my neighbor across the hall in the dorm. We talked about it and stuff, and I think that she helped a lot.”

Kammeyer said that she decided to come to the “Love is Louder” event because she would like to talk to a professional for a mental health checkup. She saw that the event was listed in the Hype book, and in an effort to make some changes in her life, she figured, “Why not take the chance?”

The actual event was a little disappointing to Kammeyer, who was under the impression that it would be a discussion concerning mental health and how to deal with it personally. Instead, the event consisted of games, pop music and cookies. The event did have some information on mental illness in the form of a matching game that had mental illness facts on the cards.

While Kammeyer understands how this can be helpful to spread the message about the issues surrounding mental health, it was not what she was expecting, as the Hype book had the original location of the event listed in SURC 140, a meeting room with a large conference table and a projector. Kammeyer understood this to mean the event would be more personal and a way for students to check in on their mental health with professionals. Kammeyer waited in SURC 140 for 30 minutes, before checking in at the Wellness Center to learn that the event had been moved to the SURC Pit.

According to Reeh, the location was changed so as not to discourage students with depression from attending. With the more open area of the SURC Pit, students would not be immediately outing themselves as depressed by showing up and could play it as though they were just passing through. Although this event could also encourage students to come out and help them realize that this is not something that they need to deal with by themselves.

“I think it’s an opportunity for students who maybe are dealing with more severe depression or more severe anxiety to see that there are students who support them and don’t judge them for that,” Reeh said.

As for students who want a more personal event, Reeh suggests that students make use of the free university resources such as counselors, group meetings and one-on-one sessions through the counseling center on campus.

There is going to be an event like this every quarter, and while Reeh said that the Wellness Center doesn’t have an exact date for next quarter, they will soon. She also is confident that the meeting location for the next event will be more concrete.