Dealing with depression on college campuses

It seems as if almost everyone has known someone who, at one point or another, has faced a mountain of depression, seemingly impossible to climb.  Whether in the open or fought in secret, it is not a battle to be taken lightly.  The fact is more than 18 million Americans struggle under the weight of depression, a number that includes 30 percent of college students.  What’s worse is that, in many cases, those who need help unfortunately do not seek it.  According to the National Institute of Mental Health, this is the number one cause of suicide worldwide.

There are many, however, who have seen the devastating effects of this epidemic and have chosen to take action against it.  On September 8, an estimated 4,500 people joined together in a walk to save lives and serve as a tribute to those affected by suicide and depression in this year’s annual Out of the Darkness walk, held by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  A number of Regent students attended the walk, one of which was Justin Achee.

“I thought it was really awesome,” he said.  “There were a lot of people [at the walk] who had lost loved ones to suicide, and I think it’s really important not just to raise awareness, but to let those people know that they’re loved.”

Another way people have taken action recently is in recognizing National Suicide Prevention Week 2012.  The highlight was Monday September 10th, otherwise known as National Suicide Prevention Day.  Many could be seen around campus with the word “love” written on their arms to show support for the cause, as encouraged by popular non-profit organization To Write Love On Her Arms.  One student, Kristen Schuman, took Monday as an opportunity to go door-to-door and pray for those in her dormitory.

“I went to bed on Sunday night, and something in my stomach was like, ‘You need to tell people they’re loved,’” she said.  It wasn’t until later the next day, however, that she decided to act.  Schuman walked through the first three floors of her dorm and knocked on every door she could, asking to pray over those inside and write the word “love” on their forearms.  In each case, she also made a point to remind them they are loved.  “I was able to have this discussion with this [one] girl about all of this, and it was just so beautiful and . . . I knew why God wanted me to do [all of] that.”

So for those who feel buried under the new responsibility brought on by college or feel alone or as if happiness is more abstract than ever—you are loved, and there is hope.  Finding help is nothing to be ashamed of, and it is readily available for those who need it.  Regent’s Psychological Services Center offers counseling at no charge to students and their immediate family.  Also, Regent C.A.R.E.S. is an after-hours hotline for students who need technical assistance or just need someone to talk to.  Monday through Friday, there is a representative waiting from 5 PM to 8 AM to talk with students.  And on top of all this, the Regent community is one that is full of students who are passionate about helping others.  One thing is for sure, you are not alone here.  No matter what—remember you are loved.