Students seeking professional help for depression can find guidance this weekend as several locations prepare to hold a National Depression Screening Day.
Each screening day offers a free, confidential 15-minute session with a healthcare professional to discuss symptoms and treatments for individuals experiencing depression or anxiety. Although UCSB held its screenings Thursday, other screenings in the county are available today at the Borders bookstore in Goleta from 12 to 10 p.m. and on Saturday, Oct. 8, at the Santa Maria Town Center from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Screenings are also available Sunday, Oct. 16, at the Borders bookstore in Santa Barbara from 12 to 8 p.m.
Symptoms of depression can include feelings of worthlessness, fatigue, changes in appetite, difficulties with making decisions or thoughts of death and suicide, according to the Screening for Mental Health, Inc., brochure.
UCSB Hosford Clinic Director Suzanne Smith said healthcare professionals screen and review participants after they answer a short questionnaire. Afterward, participants can discuss their results in a private consultation and be referred to a specialist for low-cost or free treatments. Smith said the screenings inform people how to obtain professional help.
“The screenings are for anxiety and depression, which are both very treatable,” Smith said. “But the problem is, most people don’t know where to get treatment.”
First-year biology major Alexa Calfee said she attended the screening on campus and found it helpful.
“I came out to the screening today because I thought it was interesting,” Calfee said. “It’s not very often you get a professional to screen your mental health.”
However, second-year fine arts major Starr Kirkland said the screening process lacked sufficient privacy despite its good intent.
“I think [the National Depression Screening Day] is very important and a really good thing, especially for college students,” Kirkland said. “We’re dealing with a lot of things — separation from home, stress from school — and it’s nice to know that there are resources available to students for help. But I don’t like that it’s right in the middle of the [UCen] quad, which is a very public place, and people might be a bit tentative to come up and ask for help. But at least it’s available.” Besides the screenings, students can seek help by using the resources on campus at Counseling & Career Services (C&CS), Stress Management Peer Advisor Ian Chittle said.
“Roughly five to 10 students per day come in to use the [Stress Management Peers program], but we would like to get those numbers up a lot more,” Chittle said. “We know a lot of students are dealing with stress from their daily lives and our program is an invaluable resource that more students should be using.” C&CS offers assistance to students by providing them with options such as free counseling from professional psychologists and a stress management peer program, where they can talk informally to ease stress, Chittle said.
Students seeking more information can contact Counseling Services at (805) 893-4411 or the UCSB Ray E. Hosford Clinic at (805) 893-8064. The National Depression Screening Days are sponsored by UCSB, the Glendon Association, Cottage Hospital and the Santa Barbara County Department of Alcohol, Drug, & Mental Health Services.