Parkland hosts National Depression Screening Day

Brittany Webb

Staff Writer

College is a stressful time for many students. In fact, 36.4 percent reported feeling some level of depression in 2013 according to Parkland’s counseling and advising website. This is why Parkland College is hosting an event sponsored by Parkland’s Counseling and Advising Center and the Champaign-Urbana Mental Health Public Education Committee. National Depression Screening Day takes place on Wednesday, Nov. 4.

“Symptoms of depression can include prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells, significant changes in eating and sleeping patterns, irritability or agitation, pessimism, lethargy/loss of energy, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, inability to concentrate, inability to take pleasure in former interests, social withdrawal, unexplained aches and pains, and recurring thoughts of death or suicide,” according to the counseling and advising website.

Wyatt Simmons, a sophomore in industrial engineering at Parkland says there is a lot of pressure to do well for students, and he has seen a lot of friends fall into depression over it.

“There is this standard now that you have to be an honor roll student or have a 4.0 GPA graduate of high school and college to get anywhere,” Simmons said.

The film “The Truth about Suicide: Real Stories of Depression in Collegewill be shown as part of the event.

“It’s a film about prevention,” said Dennis Cockrum, a counselor in Parkland’s department of counseling and advising. “Then we will have a panel of experts to discuss it after.”

The panel includes experts from Parkland, the Pavilion Behavioral Health System, NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill), the Depression/Bipolar Support Group, a representative from Community Elements, and a representative from the Mental Health Board.

After the panel, a discussion will be opened for questions from the crowd, and following that is the opportunity to do a depression screening in counseling and advising.

The counseling and advising department at Parkland College hopes students, as well as community members, will benefit from this event.

“We hope that students who may struggle with depression are able to understand more accurate information,” Cockrum said.

Cockrum says the department also hopes other students they call allies—or people that may be concerned about their friends or family are able to find out what to do if someone they know may be struggling with depression.

“It’s an event that can prevent someone from suffering any further with serious depression,” Cockrum explained.

Resources are available for students at Parkland College. The counseling and advising department offers personal counseling for students wishing to be seen.

Setting up an appointment is easy. Students should go to the front desk of the counseling and advising center and say they are looking to make a personal counseling appointment.

Students will be given an intake form with questions such as what they want to talk about with a counselor, who referred them (could be the student himself/herself) and how the student is feeling emotionally that day. The office will match the student with a counselor and set up an appointment.

Another resource for students is the Wellness Center at Parkland, located in the Office of Student Life.

The Wellness Center has a meditation room which can be used for meditation, praying, or just a quiet getaway if a student isn’t feeling well or overwhelmed, said Sarah Estock, Wellness Center Coordinator.

“I want students and staff to know the meditation room is here,” Estock said. “It’s almost like our best kept secret back here in Student Life.”

There are some strategies for students going through rough times.

“Being mindful can help ground you if you are feeling anxious or depressed,” Estock explained. “Breathing techniques can be helpful. 4-7-8 breathing is essentially inhaling for a count of 4 seconds, holding your breath for 7 seconds and exhaling slowly for 8 seconds.”

Cockrum suggests self-care. Exercise, good nutrition, adequate sleep, and time management are all things that can help when a person is feeling overwhelmed.

“Making time for praying, walking in the woods, or meditation can help bring you come peace,” Cockrum said.

Students should not feel alone in their battles with depression, anxiety or other mental illness. If you or someone you know is having trouble coping with school or personal matters, contact the counseling and advising department by stopping in from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in U-267 or give them a call at 217-351-2219.

The Wellness Center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and is located in U-112 (inside Student Life).

The 2015 International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is also coming up on November 21. It is a community day where survivors of someone who has committed suicide can come together and get the support they need. Anyone interested in going can contact Marilyn Ryan (mryan@parkland.edu) or Dennis Cockrum (dcockrum@parkland.edu). Registration is required.