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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Campus Health screens for depression

More than 25 percent of American adults suffer from mental illnesses each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Campus Health Service and the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Southern Arizona are bringing events to campus this week to inform the UA and Tucson communities as a part of Mental Illness Awareness Week, which includes educational events nationwide.

Mental illnesses are classified as one of three types: mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder, thought disorders, such as schizophrenia, or anxiety disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder.

“”These are biologically based diseases,”” said Scott Whitley, resource specialist and trainer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Southern Arizona. “”They can be treated, and if treated correctly, controlled but not cured.””

College-aged students are among those most often diagnosed with depression, according to Debra Cox-Howard, mental health clinician for Counseling and Psychological Services.

“”The most depression that we see is in people ages 17 to 30,”” Cox-Howard said. “”We’re trying to figure out why, and why it’s more and more prevalent every year.””

Counseling and Psychological Services will participate in National Depression Screening Day on Thursday.

Volunteers from the Student Health Advisory Committee will pass out surveys to students at the UofA Bookstore. The survey includes about 40 questions about feelings and behavior.

“”We score them right there and talk to people about the results,”” Cox-Howard said. “”It gives (students) an opportunity to heighten awareness and provide them with resources available to them.””

Of the 168 students surveyed in person and online during the same event last year, 17 tested positive for depression. Twelve of these students were referred to Counseling and Psychological Services.

“”Nationwide it’s like, ‘What can we do to bring about awareness and demystify the whole thing,'”” Cox-Howard said.

Many students are reluctant to admit they are struggling, according to Cox-Howard.

“”Students are afraid,”” Cox-Howard said. “”They don’t want to have that stigma.””

Whitley said this stigma may affect those who suffer from mental illness for their entire lives.

“”I would say in the last 10 years, education has gotten a lot better, but there are still a lot of misconceptions,”” Whitley said.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Southern Arizona will hold a panel discussion Thursday to address these issues.

“”Unmasking Mental Illness: Ask the Professionals”” will bring together mental health experts with backgrounds in pharmacy and psychiatry. The discussion will be based on the questions of audience members.

Martha Fankhauser, clinical professor in the department of pharmacy practice in the College of Pharmacy, will be a panelist at the discussion.

“”Pharmacists have a different perspective,”” Fankhauser said. “”My perspective on why I’m there is education and letting people know there are other options for their health and mental health.””

Fankhauser said she is interested in informing people about available resources.

“”I think it’s not respected as much as other illnesses,”” Fankhauser said. “”That’s why mental illness awareness is so important.””

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