Suffolk University Reaches Out to Students Facing Depression

8/28/2001

BOSTON - Suffolk University's Counseling Center has developed an action plan to raise student, faculty and parent awareness of depression among students as a step towards helping them.

The action plan grew out of a comprehensive community needs assessment that included individual interviews and focus groups that considered the effects of depression on the academic and personal lives of Suffolk University students and those who work with them. Among the findings of the assessment, funded by a grant administered by the university President's Office, were that:

  • Stigmas remain attached to mental health concerns among students;
  • Faculty expressed frustration with the challenges of teaching depressed students; and
  • Students, taxed by the demands of work and school, generally do not respond to brochures, general mailings, standup lectures or surveys.

To capture a student's attention, the Counseling Center and the Dean of Students Office are collaborating with a student drama group to present entertaining, yet informative, vignettes that address depression. These theatrical pieces will anchor awareness workshops.

"We're trying to make depression awareness and treatment a collaborative effort, not something imposed upon students,"said Dr. Lynda D. Field, director of ADAPT (About Depression: Awareness, Prevention and Treatment) and assistant professor of psychological services at Suffolk University. "The theatrical piece will be fun but poignant, and the workshops will address stress reduction and help faculty, roommates and parents recognize what's helpful and what's not when they encounter a student with depression."

The Counseling Center also has developed a comprehensive website (www.suffolk.edu/cnsctr/depression.html) to educate the Suffolk University community.

Brochures and seminars have been developed to provide education and support to faculty and parents, and resident assistants are being trained in the areas of depression and suicide-risk identification.

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