The university years are supposed to be some of the best of your life, but for many students, this time is a struggle.
A new U.S.-Canada study found that one in four students who visit an on campus health clinic for a common illness are suffering from depression. When surveryed they would agree with statements such as "I feel sad all of the time." The study also found that two to three percent of these students also had suicidal thoughts.
When I came across this article in the National Post, it really caught my attention. One of my friends battled depression throughout university. I had watched as someone who seemed happy and well-adjusted in high school struggled to cope with this new chapter of our lives. The transition to living alone and being an adult is not always easy and everyone had their challenges, but if a quarter of students show signs of depression, it makes me wonder who else among my friends struggled with this. Could I have helped if I had known?
This study, published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, is the first of its kind as it screened for depression in students who were already visiting a campus health clinic for routine care. Previous studies have only focused on general college samples or students using campus counselling centres.
The results of this new study show that students suffering from depression are, in fact, visiting campus health centres. This debunks previous beliefs that screening for depression in students would be ineffective because those that needed help were not visiting the health centres.
‘Depression screening is easy to do, we know it works, and it can save lives. It should be done for every student who walks into a health centre,’ said Michael Fleming, MD, MPH, lead researcher of this study and professor of family and community medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in a news release. This will hopefully allow for earlier intervention, as opposed to waiting for students to actively seek help from campus counselling centres, which usually occurs when they are in a deeper stage of depression.
The study surveyed over 1,500 students visiting on campus health centres at the University of British Columbia, University of Washington and the University of Wisconsin.