Tackling University Depression

Screening tools can help identify depressed college students

(RxWiki News) A study out of Northwestern University argues that students with depression are being commonly overlooked in campus health centers, making frequent use of screening tools necessary.

An estimated 19 million Americans live with depression. Recently, the importance of depression screening has become a major concern in university students. One in four students who visit a university health center show symptoms of depression, and 2 to 3 percent of them have had suicidal thoughts.

Michael Fleming, a professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, says that not screening for depression could lead to higher drop-out rates and even suicide.

Fleming's study is the first depression screening attempt in students who receive health care at their university. Previous studies focused on the general student population or those in counseling. Depression and suicidal thoughts were found to be almost twice as prevalent in students receiving care at clinics than the overall student population.

Screening tools include a simple, quick survey a student can fill out while waiting for an appointment. Usually students who go to a primary care clinic on-campus for depression are referred to a counseling service. Fleming hopes that screening these students in these health centers first will make sure that every student receives attention.

"Students will tell you the truth," he argues. While historically it has been believed that depressed students will not go to campus health centers, Fleming believes that they do and screening tools will help them find assistance.

Review Date: 
January 12, 2011