Cougars assess student mental health

For National Depression Screening Day, the Hope and Wellness Center provided students with a depression screening event on Oct. 17 where internal and external resources were present for those in need of further care. 

The screening test is based on the Harvard Department of Psychiatry’s scale from zero to 30 points known as the HANDS scale. The higher the score, the higher the individual is at risk of possible mental health distress. 


Ryan Stevenson, a psychologist at the Student Health and Counseling Services, said, “The purpose of this screener is to look at specific symptoms, kind of the core symptoms of depression to get an idea of how people are doing on these symptoms for depression.” 


Unchecked mental health can become a problem, especially if an individual shows symptoms of mental health distress.


“What they are trying to do with this screening is to approximate how depressed someone might be based on these symptoms, and how much they endorse these items,” said Stevenson.


Acknowledging mental health beyond it’s stigma is extremely important, especially as a young adult.


Julianna Murray, a fifth year nursing student volunteer, said, “It’s important to screen for different disorders, like depression to be sure people are getting the best care possible.”


Over the past six years this event as grown adding different options and resources for students to seek help both on and off campus. 


Mental Health Educator Cheryl Berry said, “We have incorporated resources, we have campus and community partners, who come out to provide students with information about the services that exist on campus and off campus in the community to provide them support for their mental health.”


Through holding these types of events they hope to help students avoid becoming overwhelmed and learn to manage their feelings and emotions.


“We want students to understand how they can reduce and manage their stress, how they can prevent depression or anxiety or other diagnosable mental health conditions,” said Berry.


As midterms roll around, many students have increased stress and anxiety, this event acts as a gauge for students who need an outlet and guidance on how to manage their feelings.

“I think it’s really important [to hold events like this], especially because a lot of the time in college you’re just going through everyday life and you don’t stop to think about if you’re taking care of yourself physically and mentally,” said Murray.


As one of the many options for support, the Cougar Care Network provides support in aspects separate from the Student Health and Counseling Services.

“Cougar Care Network provides support, resources, and information for students who may be experiencing concerns, that are impacting their ability to do well in school. [Such as] financial concerns, to mental health, personal or family issues, to academic concerns,” said Cougar Care Network Care Manager, Bonnie Cambell.


One of the main goals of this event is to raise awareness about mental health and attempt to destigmatize the idea of mental health distress.


“It’s really important for our students to understand the importance of their mental health, because we all have mental health and we all want to be sure that we stay in positive mental health,” said Berry.

The Cougar Chronicle The independent student news site of California