Help for depression

To the Editor:

Depression is prevalent on every campus in America. Oct. 7 is National Depression Screening Day, marking the official launching of a mental health screening option on the Health Center website. This self-assessment tool can help you learn if depression and related mood and anxiety issues are affecting you. It can point you in some direction to better emotional health.

One in five adults have a diagnosable mental health problem each year. Chances are that you or someone whose daily path crosses yours have been touched by a treatable mental health issue; frequently, it is depression, which affects 19 million people in the U.S. every year.
College students are especially at risk. In the annual surveys of the American College Health Association, almost half of the thousands of respondents report that they have been so depressed at some point in the academic year that it was difficult to function.

There is no reason to believe that the Purple Bubble exempts Williams students. In the 2006 senior exit survey, for instance, with almost the entire class responding, the stats were remarkably similar to the national figures. Almost 48 percent of seniors reported that they had been so depressed, from one to nine or more times, during the academic year that it was difficult to function.

So much silence and stigma surround mental health issues that people may not receive the help they need. At colleges like Williams, a particular kind of stigma can be especially potent. In 1994 an anonymous student wrote a Record op-ed about an experience with depression at Williams: “[It’s] really hard to admit to yourself … that you don’t have as good a grip on things as you would like, especially hard at a place like Williams, where you are supposed to be happy and successful all of the time, or at least look that way.” These words ring as true today as they did 16 years ago.

Challenge the barriers that might be in your way of taking charge of your emotional health. It is a sign of strength to know when you have a problem and to get help for it. If you’re concerned about your thoughts and feelings or feel overwhelmed and depressed – take a few moments to complete the self-assessment on the Health Center website. It could be the first step to a healthier future.