It’s seems like every time you get on Facebook there’s a new “national” day. A series of bitter Facebook statuses were posted on “National Boyfriend Day.” The internet showed tons of support and stories on “National Coming-Out Day.” One week before that, on the same day as “National Taco Day,” “National Depression Screening Day” brought attention to mental health. On Wednesday, Oct. 4, UW-Milwaukee participated in National Depression Screening Day.
From 11:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m., students were welcomed to have a private screening in the student union. The screenings included a confidential interview with a specialist, educational resources and referrals to local treatment services. A table in the union provided information on this service and also additional resources around campus.
“On average one in every three students at UWM suffer from some form of depression,” said Counseling Director Paul Dupont. This is general across all college campuses in America.
For the past 50 years, a survey conducted by UCLA has been given to high school seniors and college freshman. According to Dupont, data from the last two years shows an increase. Reports have shown the highest level of results stating that anxiety or depression has affected students’ functioning in the past 12 months.
“I’ve been depressed over things I consider to be normal young adult issues,” said UW-Milwaukee student Julien Phifer. “School, dating, working… I feel all are hard to balance on top of being a young black male.”
Not only has there been an increase of depression and anxiety in college students, but the trend is also seen in high school seniors going into college. According to Dupont, in the past reports of anxiety and depression have been pretty consistent with either category varying only a few percent from the other. In the past couple of years, anxiety has taken the lead and continues to grow while reports of depression stay around the same 28-32 percent. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million Americans adults (18 or older) are affected by anxiety, but “only 36.9 of those suffering seek treatment.”
UW-Milwaukee offers an abundance of support on campus and the Norris Health Center is the best place to start. Counseling is available in the University Counseling Services office on the 5th floor of the Northwest Quad. Both individual and group sessions are offered. Any student who physically attends class at UWM has already paid for these services in their school fees so they are “free” to any student. Not only can students seek counseling in these offices but can also be provided medications.
“We provide services to 1,425 students whether it’s counseling or seeing a psychiatrist,” said Dupont. Their offices see about 8,000 appointments throughout the year.
The Accessibility Resource Center located in Mitchell Hall grants visas for students who can provide documentation on their mental or physical disabilities. Visas provide students with assistance, in agreement with their professor, to accommodate issues they may encounter in a course.
According to Dupont, grants are provided for programs such as Campus Connect, where 2,200 people, including RAs, are trained for two and a half hours in suicide prevention. Programs train individuals to recognize warning signs, how to intervene, how to talk to some suffering, and where to refer people. Overall the program teaches how to connect with students.
Active Minds at UW-Milwaukee is a student organization that works to eliminate the stigma of mental health. Students Connect is a program where graduate students train students for about an hour on the same things as Campus Connect, but mostly helping students get comfortable talking with their peers.
Norris Health Center has over 20 pamphlets on a number of things that can cause students any type of stress or discomfort. One included “coping with race-related stress” typed with white letters on a shiny black pamphlet and “experiencing and expressing emotion” on a strawberry pink colored pamphlet.
Students can visit http://uwm.edu/mentalhealth/campus-and-community/ to find a list of campus resources, to sign up for Campus Connect, and a list services around Milwaukee that provide support. There is also a link provided to take online screenings at http://uwm.edu/norris/health-services/online-screenings/.