WSU students screened for depression

WSU students screened for depression

Kellen Brandt, Features Reporter

For the second year, students and faculty who are a part of the Health Campaign through Bridges Clinic partnered with other local organizations to organize a Virtual Depression Screening on Oct. 8.

Bridges Health, in collaboration with Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Center, Friendship Center, East Recreation Center and the Winona Family YMCA, partnered to make this event happen and spread awareness about mental health.

Jen Timm, associate professor for the graduate nursing program and director of Bridges Health, said the event is designed to help the community of Winona talk about mental health.

“This is our way, at a local level, to be involved with a national public health campaign and this is such an important one,” Timm said. “It is exciting to see our community be involved with supporting a national campaign at a local level.”

According to Timm, the event is about bringing awareness to depression and helping break the stigma of depression on both a local and national level.

“It is important for us all to understand that depression is common and treatable,” Timm said. “Screening for depression helps early identify so we can have a conversation about coping skills and healthy behaviors to support both our physical and mental health.”

Diana Tapia Alvarado is a social work major at Winona State University and is affiliated with Health Campaigns through Bridges Clinic. Tapia Alvarado says she provides resources, makes connections and offers perspectives both during this event and in her daily work.

“Health Campaigns’ mission is to create safe outreach service for those who do not have resources or courage to ask for help,” Tapia Alvarado said. “Mental health affects how we think, feel and act. It’s important at every stage of life, from childhood through adulthood.”

National Depression Screening Day is a national event that has been brought to the city of Winona to raise more awareness in the community about the importance of mental health.     

“This event is presented as a way for students to engage with services that can help them speak with health professional about their mental health,” Tapia Alvarado said. “The screenings point out the presence or absence of depressive symptoms and provide a referral for further evaluation if needed.”

This event was open to the public and to anyone over the age of 13, however Tapia Alvarado believes this screening is especially essential for young adults.    

“It’s important because many college students struggle with mental health and they struggle through it alone,” Tapia Alvarado said. “Doing the screening helps connect people who are struggling and don’t really know where to go with the resources that can help them.”

Due to COVID-19, this event was virtual and by appointment only.

These free screenings took place either online or over the phone with a health profession student of Bridges Health, supervised by their faculty. Hiawatha Valley Mental Health Center licensed therapists were available as well.

“It is important to keep having mental health be a part of everyday conversations,” Tapia Alvarado said. “To keep normalizing it, to let people know it’s okay not to be okay and have the courage to reach out to someone for help. Just reaching out and asking someone how there doing could go a long way and could even save someone’s life.”

Tapia Alvarado says she encourages students to have a screening done if they could not make it on the day itself. Virtual Bridges runs weekly depression screenings during the academic year.

“Being aware of your own mental health and encouraging others to be aware of their own can make a difference,” Tapia Alvarado said.

Tapia Alvarado said that during COVID, it is important people watch their own and others mental health.

“Keep being passionate, empathize and show you care,” Tapia Alvarado said. “People struggle every single day so keep fighting the silent battle of mental health every single day. Make it loud, make it known.”