By Briana Spina
Last Thursday, Oct. 5, was National Depression Screening Day. The Saint Rose Counseling Center offered free screenings for depression among other mental illnesses including generalized anxiety disorder, post traumatic stress, and mood disorders. Students filled out an evaluation form and had a one-on-one conversation with Counseling Center employees about their results and the possible routes to take on response. The Chronicle spoke with
Sabrina Balbuena, Associate Director of Counseling & Psychological Services
Alan Martell, Assistant Director of Counseling & Psychological Services about the annual event.
Chron.: Why did the counseling center decide to start doing free screenings?
Couns: The Counseling Center offers free counseling screenings each day. The National Depression Screening Day event is especially important because we are part of a united effort to reach new people who may be in need of support. We utilize screening tools and outreach information that many other colleges and organizations are also using on this day. We have found that this event is often a way for new people to take the first step in receiving support from the Counseling Center. Through this united outreach effort, we hope to deliver the message that it is ok to ask for support and that help is available.
Chron: How many students came to the event this year?
Couns: This year, 10 students sought a screening at the Counseling Center.
Chron: Could you discern their attitudes towards the event?
Couns: Several students stated that they had believed that something was wrong and had thought about counseling for awhile. They stated that upon seeing advertising for the Screening Day event, they decided to take the step to enter the Counseling Center.
Chron: How many staff members helped out to make this event possible?
Couns: We had three licensed clinical professionals, three master’s level student-interns, and two members of our support staff at the event. We also had support from Student Association clubs, who helped to promote the event throughout the campus.
Chron: What was your overall opinion of the event this year?
Couns: We are pleased each year that students take advantage of the event. We are further encouraged that additional students, whether they come in today or in the future, are more aware of the Counseling Center and can elect to utilize our services.
Chron: The American College Counseling Association has noted an increased number of students who report that they are having mental health-related struggles. Additionally, a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association found that about one-third of college students had trouble functioning due to depression within that year. What has the counseling center done to battle these alarming statistics? Is there any further action you plan to take in the future?
Couns: The Counseling Center seeks to educate and inform students about mental health related issues. While students primarily come to the Counseling Center for services, the Center also provides programming and workshops on campus to reach out to the student population in a different format and setting. This allows students to meet our counselors and helps to destigmatize counseling for some. We have also broadened our outreach efforts to include an Instagram account, in which our therapy dog can share information about mental health tips and campus events.
Chron: How does the counseling center combat the stigma against mental illness?
Couns: One way is to normalize most of the experiences that students have. Depression, anxiety, relationship and other issues occur in the everyday lives of most people. When it becomes too much, or if a student has tried other things to address their issues, counseling is just another tool that can be used to assist a student in learning coping strategies and having a trained, impartial individual to help them through their issues.
Chron: Do you have any general advice for students regarding mental health?
Couns: Some people tend to believe that they should wait to receive counseling only if they are in a crisis. We believe that counseling support services can often help people to avoid such crises. By learning coping tools, identifying your areas of vulnerability, developing strong support systems, and problem solving, you can work with a counselor to develop an individualized plan toward wellness. Any student can benefit from counseling. No problem is too small; If you are struggling with something, we are here to assist you in finding solutions.
The Counseling center is located at 947 Madison Ave, and the office is open Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The office can be reached at 518-454-5200.