Members of the Duke community came together to provide free depression screenings for students as part of National Depression Screening Day Thursday.
In an effort to raise awareness about depression, organizations NeuroCare, Peer for You, To Write Love on Her Arms, National Alliance for Mental Illness, Counseling and Psychological Services and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences teamed up to provide students with free screenings at the Bryan Center on Thursday. Twenty trained student volunteers and over ten licensed psychologists informed students about treatment, symptoms and ways to manage depression.
“Our main mission is to raise awareness about depression and eliminate stigma,” said junior Eddie Liu, a leader of NeuroCare. “It should be an open topic, just like any other medical condition.”
Rolffs Pinkerton, associate professor of medical psychology, said that depression is a common adjustment problem that people can experience as early as eleven. Symptoms include fatigue, suicidal thoughts, loss of concentration, decrease or increase in appetite and difficulty sleeping.
"A lot of students struggle with the symptoms associated with depression and getting them help and support is more important than identifying whether they meet the full criteria for diagnosis of major depressive disorder," wrote Gary Glass, associate director for outreach and developmental programming at CAPS, in an email Thursday.
CAPS provides support for 10 to 11 percent of Duke students annually for a variety of mental health issues, including depression, Glass added.
Although CAPS provides help to students from a licensed staff, there are students who are uneasy about sharing their emotional conditions.
“An individual might desire to resolve issues on their own," Pinkerton said. "Some people also feel a certain vulnerability about acknowledging depression.”
Liu estimated that 50 people were reached during the 7.5-hour event and picked up depression questionnaires and pamphlets provided by the psychiatry department.
“If even one person from today goes to seek help because of this [screening event], then it is a success,” Liu said.
He added that most people who stopped at the table were seeking help either for themselves or for a friend they suspected was suffering from depression.