Parkland resources available to help those with depression

Photo by EvyJo Compton Student worker Jordan Maher tends the front desk of the Counseling and Advising Center on Jan. 24.

Photo by EvyJo Compton
Student worker Jordan Maher tends the front desk of the Counseling and Advising Center on Jan. 24.

EvyJo Compton

Staff Writer

Dennis Cockrum is one of the many counselors at Parkland College; he is an academic and personal counselor. He has had many years of experience helping those with depression, anxiety, PTSD and other mental illnesses cope, survive, and take the next step towards getting better.

“There are different kinds of depression. There’s situational: where something happens like a death of a family [member] or an accident,” Dennis Cockrum says. “If it is situational, that is [when] someone is able to return to their level of functioning.”

Along with situational depression, there is clinical depression. Cockrum elaborates, “Clinical depression…deals with our brain chemistry. It sometimes can be helped with talk therapy, by doing behavioral types of changes, by increasing exercise, and by doing physical kinds of activities. At times, people will need medication…mainly to change the chemistry of the brain back to normal.”

Cockrum explains that there are symptoms that counselors can look for when trying to identity depression.

“We look at symptoms that are affecting functioning…[and] how seriously these symptoms are affecting a [person’s] functioning,” Cockrum says. “Symptoms of depression are things like loss of interest in things that you previously enjoyed, loss of appetite, change in weight-either significant loss or gain of weight, negative thoughts or inability to concentrate…sometimes being fixated on negative thinking. Those are just examples of the way depression can manifest in a person.”

When one feels that they may be struggling with depression, it is important he or she reaches out for help. One place that students can go is the counseling center located in U267.

“Here at the counseling center what we can do, is if anyone in the school or community feels like they may have depression, we can do a depression screening. A brief two page screening. We can score this…to see where their symptoms fall and how depression may affect the person,” Cockrum says. “If someone—a community member or student—asks about a screening…one can go into our intake process. They can fill out a form stating who they are, what they’re having difficulty with, have a counselor look over the form, and then have someone schedule a 50-minute counseling session…these are confidential; they do not go on your academic form.”

Depression can be a touchy subject for people; some people may not want to reach out for help, or not even realize what they are going through. Cockrum explains ways that friends, teachers, or family members can help those who they suspect may have depression.

“Getting someone to talk…to express your concern for your friend or classmate, let them know that you’re worried. If you’re worried about something they’ve said, ask them to tell you more, and listen. If it sounds like a person is in difficulty, or exhibiting something that could lead to not being successful or harming themselves…if someone says something like ‘I don’t want to live anymore or ‘I can’t do this anymore’ or ‘Life’s not worth it’, these are all signs that a professional needs to be helping sort things out,” Cockrum said. “You as a student can walk someone here for help, or ask them if they would be willing to come here. You can call the crisis line, open 24 hours a day, our local crisis line is 349-4141. If you think someone is going to hurt themselves, you can call and ask for help with the situation.”

Depression is a mental illness that takes away the joy in one’s life; it takes away one’s hope for the future, one’s interest in things that they love, and turns one’s mind into a black hole. It is a crippling mental illness, and those who suffer from it need to reach out and get help.

If you think you are struggling with depression or any other mental illness, reach out for help. Contact the crisis line at 217-349-4141 if you need immediate help.

To contact the Counseling and Advising Center call 217-351-2219 or go to room U267 in the Student Union to make an appointment. Information is also available online at