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Free campus screening for depression

| 04 November 2004

University Health Services will hold a Depression Screening Day for the campus and the local community at Stephens Lounge in the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union on Tuesday, Nov. 9, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The screenings, which include a written self-test followed by a 10- to 15-minute interview with a counselor, are free and available on a walk-in basis. Mental-health professionals from UHS and the Alameda County Psychological Association will conduct the clinic and offer referrals for follow-up evaluations when necessary.

The screening day typically attracts 100 to 120 people, says Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) director Jeff Prince, with students comprising 80 percent of the attendees. “We find the majority of people that we screen wouldn’t have sought out mental-health consultation on their own,” he says, “so we really are reaching a different population from the one that comes in our door.”

The mental-health professionals at the screening use a diagnostic questionnaire to assess the severity of symptoms. Typically, about 60 percent of those screened have moderate to severe symptoms of depression, says Prince. Students with severe symptoms are referred to CPS, while faculty and staff are referred to CARE Services. For off-campus attendees, the counselor offers various options in the community.

CPS promotes Depression Screening Day by handing out gummy lips on Sproul Plaza with the attached message, “Kiss the blues goodbye.” While “depression screening” might sound vaguely ominous to some, Prince equates it with being tested for high blood pressure. “We try to make this fun,” he says, “to encourage people to take care of their mental health. The earlier you intervene, the earlier you can prevent serious problems.”

While CARE Services does not provide counseling, its staff offers problem assessment, consultations, and referrals for faculty and staff. “If a client needs outside therapy or other resources,” says CARE Services manager Kathleen Handron, “we refer them through their health plan.”

“Given depression’s frequency as a mental illness, it’s really important for people to understand the signs of depression,” Handron says, “and to get help for themselves or their loved ones. It’s a very treatable illness, and CARE Services is here to help.” For information about CARE Services for Faculty and Staff, visit www.uhs.berkeley.edu/facstaff/care/ or call 643-7754. To learn more about Depression Screening Day, visit uhs.berkeley.edu/home/news/depressionscreening2004.shtml. For information about the warning signs of depression, visit www.uhs.berkeley.edu/lookforthesigns/index.shtml.