Suffolk ‘Samaritans' Battle Against Depression


One undergraduate student and three faculty-student teams were selected to receive this year's Suffolk University Samaritan Awards. These awards are part of the University Counseling Center's Action for Depression Awareness, Prevention, and Treatment (ADAPT) program and are presented each year to individuals or groups on campus that propose projects, events and activities that enhance awareness of the signs and symptoms of depression or address issues related to depression prevention or treatment

During a celebration on Thursday, December 2, Suffolk University Provost and Academic Vice President Patricia Maguire Meservey honored this year's applicants and presented awards of up to $1,000 to the four winners so they can translate their ideas into action during the spring 2005 semester.

Suffolk University Samaritan Awards were presented to the following teams and individuals:

  • Undergraduate student Omar Camara Ramirez will create an Oasis Room, providing an accessible place on campus where students can feel relaxed and renewed as an antidote to depression caused by loneliness, adjustment difficulties and the dark days of the New England environment (Seasonal Affective Disorder-SAD).  The Oasis Room Space will be located in the  Suffolk Library and will available to anyone in the community who needs space to go and feel calm, relaxed and able to think.  The room will include a GoLite that will help fight depression, help with SAD and other factors; a warm humidifier to help create the feeling of being in a warm humid climate; and a white noise machine to assist in relaxation with sounds of birds, waves, running water and other sounds of nature.
  • An ADAPT Public Service Announcement (PSA) will be developed by will be developed by WSUB, the student-run TV station at Suffolk University, working with Jennifer Bagley, station manager and Professor Nina Huntemann, faculty member in the Department of Communication and Journalism. In consultation with the Counseling Center, the group will design and produce a script that will address symptoms of depression, how it can be prevented and treated and focus on the services provided by the Counseling Center.
  • Students from an evening section of the Rhetorical Communication course, along with team leaders Amber Walsh and Meaghan Cormier and their instructor, Mark Rotondo, will create the Be Aware media campaign to inform the campus community about stress and possible depression that freshmen students especially feel while adjusting to college life. They will use a number of group and communication strategies, as well as research on depression, to create the campaign and will develop a Web site where students can anonymously post their feelings and obtain information regarding the symptoms of depression and resources to help them and their peers.  The Web site will be the foundation for a “peer support network” that will reach out to students feeling stranded and isolated.
  • The Mindfulness-based Prevention project was developed through the teamwork of one undergraduate student and four graduate students, Christina Balboni, Becky Billings, Veronica Sanchez, Carrie Silver, and Tom Smithyman, all students in the Psychology Department and their professor, Sue Orsillo. The  team will organize a series of workshops, open to all students, to increase awareness and to practice mindfulness-based skills in order to support the development of better coping skills to prevent depression.  Research on mindfulness, a practice that originated from Buddhist traditions, indicates that its use is associated with improved physical health and reduced stress and anxiety.  Brochures and a DVD will be produced and a distribution plan will be developed so that information and instructions about mindfulness-based skills will be available to as many members of the Suffolk community as possible.
  • Other projects received recognition certificates at the Awards ceremony, including:

    • A project developed by R. Scott Reedy of the Center for International Education that would provide opportunities for international students to get together regularly to deal with potential loneliness and isolation and provide more resources to help them sustain their well-being.
    • A project developed by Chris Giordano and Jennifer Droney of the Dean of Students Office that would support students with disabilities who also may suffer from depression and educate the community about the link between disabilities and depression.
    • A project proposed by Neil Hunt of the Sawyer School of Management that would provide support for faculty whose contracts had not been renewed so that they could continue to be involved effectively as teachers and also make plans for their future.

    The Co-Directors of the ADAPT program, Dr. Lynda Field and Dr. Paul Korn of the Counseling Center believe that all the Samaritan Award applicants exhibit a commitment to Suffolk University and an awareness that, through their creativity and efforts, they can help make the university a more caring community.

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