Psychology clinic to offer free and anonymous depression screening

The Marshall University Psychology Clinic will offer students free, quick and anonymous depression screenings on Thursday, Oct. 8 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Harris Hall Room 449 in participation with National Depression Screening Day.

This marks the 25th year the organization Screening for Mental Health has encouraged a nationwide effort to connect people with mental health treatment for depression. The screenings will be conducted by doctoral psychology students, who will determine if patients exhibit depressive symptoms and suggest individualized next steps.

Assistant Professor of psychology, Brittany Canady, said that depression is not an illness that should be taken lightly.

“Depression is a disease that affects many, many Americans,” Canady said. “Up to a quarter of people may experience a depressive episode in their lifetime, so it’s important for us to be aware of this and give people opportunities to come in and check in, see how they’re doing and help direct them toward treatment, if treatment is needed.”

Anyone who attends the clinic will be given a short questionnaire to evaluate their symptoms. Though definitive diagnoses cannot cannot be made, the clinicians will be able to direct patients to a variety of local follow-up options, including Marshall’s Counseling Center and free therapy offered by doctoral psychology students.

Canady said that despite the stigma, depression is nothing to be ashamed of and encourages anyone who may think they are experiencing depressive symptoms to attend the clinic.

“It’s true that depression is highly stigmatized, as are other mental disorders,” Canady said. “The thing to keep in mind is that it’s so common. It’s one of those disorders that is truly hidden, but is ever-present in our society. There are many people who you would never expect are dealing with depression, who have found ways to reach out and get help that has made a significant difference in their lives. It can be uncomfortable to reach out, but it can be worth it in the long run.”

Clinical psychology doctoral candidate, Shelby McGuire, noted that the clinic may be particularly vital to those who are unsure about their symptoms.

“Currently, 13 percent of college students say depression has affected their academic performance, which is up from just 11 percent in 2008.””

— Michelle Holmberg

“I think coming here could be especially useful for people who are kind of ambivalent about whether or not their depressed and what that means and we can help them figure it out,” McGuire said.

McGuire along with clinical psychology doctoral candidate, Emma Bushong, will be 1 of the 2 of the counselors available at the screening. Bushong said that treatment plans for those who may be experiencing depression will be personalized and collaborative.

“Depression can manifest itself in a lot of different ways, so first, we want to talk about what depression means to that specific person, because it can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people,” Bushong said. “We will work together to come up with a plan to target how that is affecting and talk about the connections between thoughts, feelings and behaviors and how that affects their social life and relationships, among other things.”

Director of Programs at Screening for Mental Health, Michelle Holmberg, said this event is more important now than ever as depression is on the rise among college students nationwide.

“Currently, 13 percent of college students say depression has affected their academic performance, which is up from just 11 percent in 2008,” Holmberg said. “A very brief mental health screening can really help people in the long run who need to get into long-term treatment.”

Those unable to attend can take a general screening online at helpyourselfhelpothers.org or locate the nearest in-person clinic to discuss their symptoms.

Rob Engle can be contacted at [email protected]