Hillsdale’s Lighthouse Club, a mental health awareness organization, partnered with the psychology honorary Psi Chi to organize a depression screening booth in the Grewcock Student Union for National Depression Screening Day on Oct. 11.
The two organizations sought to spread awareness about depression and provide those who suffer from it with resources and support. Members of Lighthouse and Psi Chi manned the booth throughout the day, informing passing students about a free online screening survey designed to identify depression and about the resources available on campus to deal with diagnosed and undiagnosed depression.
Resources available to students include the Health and Wellness Center, which provides free counseling for all students. The students working at the booth also provided Director of Health and Wellness Brock Lutz’s phone number and email, and the contact information for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
Psi Chi President and senior Lucile Townley said the event challenged the social stigma around depression.
“There wasn’t as big of a turnout at the table as we hoped for, but that is partly because there is still such a stigma about coming to talk about it,” Townley said. “Hopefully just by being there, we not only got the idea out, but destigmatized it and showed people that were afraid to come talk to us that there is support for them on campus.”
Senior Marina Bostelman, president of the Lighthouse club, emphasized the importance of providing students with both the survey and the resources.
“The survey is not intended to replace a diagnosis of depression but to give students the opportunity to self-evaluate and see if they could use some additional help,” she said. “That’s where the sheet comes in with the resources the college has for mental health and a reminder that they are free. We definitely don’t want to provide a screening tool like this without also reminding people about the resources that are available to them.”
Chairwoman of Psychology and adviser to Psi Chi Kari McArthur cited a World Health Organization study that confirmed the increase in moderate and severe depression on college campuses as well as the ambiguous nature of its symptoms.
WHO found one in three college freshman cite some mental health condition, most commonly depression, the symptoms of which range from changes in appetite, sleep, and mood to sadness, irritability, and feelings of worthlessness.
“It just affects so many aspects of a person’s life,” McArthur said. “It even affects you cognitively, in the thinking process. And if you think about the function of a college student trying to operate with lower cognitive ability because of the depression they are dealing with, it makes life much more difficult.”
Bostelman said she does not believe Hillsdale’s campus has avoided this increase.
“I think that Hillsdale can be a very stressful, pressure-filled environment,” Bostelman said. “And when you are in a situation where you’re pushing yourself to do well and everyone else around you is also working extremely hard, it can be very easy to start developing some symptoms of depression.”
Far from finished in its battle against depression, Psi Chi plans to host an event later in the semester in which students will have the opportunity to play computer games with software specifically designed to relieve stress and decrease anxiety.
McArthur said it is extremely important to understand the signs of depression and look for them in friends on campus.
“There is a difference between talking to a mental health professional and a friend. I would encourage friends to help get their friends into counseling if they need it,” McArthur said. “It doesn’t have to be anything extreme. You can encourage your friends to call Mr. Lutz, offer to make an appointment, offer to walk them there and wait in the lobby — those kinds of gestures are important.”
The following resources are free and available to students who need it:
Hillsdale College Health and Wellness Center
Phone : (517) 607‑4368
Brock Lutz, Hillsdale College Director of Health and Wellness, Clinical Counselor
Phone: (517) 607‑2561
National Suicide Prevention
Phone: 1 – 800-273‑8255
Online chat (with counselors):