ASU Counseling Center raises depression awareness

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Staff at Arkansas State University's Counseling Center are working to raise awareness of depression with students on campus.

The Counseling Center is presenting Depression Awareness and Suicide Prevention Week.

Dr. Phil Hestand with the counseling center says students often find themselves challenged and stressed by university life, and stress is consistently identified as the greatest impediment to academic success in national student health polls. "We know depression as well as anxiety is a prevalent issue for college students, " Hestand said. "Stress and depression are not the same thing. However, stress frequently leads to depression. So, we want to address any issues the students may have and help them deal with it."

Unfortunately, persistent unmitigated stress may lead to depression, anxiety, and, occasionally, suicidal ideation. It is for this very reason Hestand says they work so hard to educate their students. "We've had some seminars where we've talked to some students about symptoms and signs of stress. What depression looks like. Also, symptoms for someone showing signs of suicide."

The counseling offered free, confidential depression screenings all day on Wednesday.

Hestand says students are often unaware of what's going on and dismiss their problems as something else. "A lot of times students are not aware of the habits they have that contribute to stress," he said. "They think they can get by on three hours of sleep at night and, of course, that's not a healthy thing to do. I think also they misinterpret some of the symptoms that they have. Because for some, especially young adults, sometimes when they're having some early symptoms of depression and they'll describe things like problems concentrating, fidgeting and inattention, those things are associated with other things and they'll think it's something else."

They are holding a number of different events this week. Stretching to de-stress is taking place Thursday in the St. Francis River room at 3:30. Friday people are invited to drum to de-stress at the ASU Museum from three to four.

For more information about these events or the Arkansas State University Counseling Center, log onto their website.

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.