You are on page 1of 13

Page 1

WiiFit
UWRT 1102
Professor Rothwell
4/7/2015

Cause You Have A Bad Day


Depression Among College Students
Turning I Can't into I Will
Depression is a growing issue among college students in the United States. If not made
aware, the harmful effects will continue to avalanche into the near future. One out of every four
college students suffer from some form of diagnosable mental illness. This study was conducted
to collect data on UNC Charlotte student awareness of: the relevant depression issues on college
campuses, different types of depression, how to notice them, and how they can help prevent
them. Additionally, all college students need to know where they can go to seek help or
treatment if they are suffering. Depression not only affects the sufferer, but also everyone around
them including peers, family, and professors.
Imagine being eighteen years old, still dependent on your local family and friend
support, and being thrown into the semi-real world. You do not fully know how to pay bills,
shop for groceries, or even hold yourself accountable; to say the least is a shock. It is challenging
living alone and becoming accustomed to a long distance between you and your family. Without
support you can become anti-social, which only exacerbates the problem. An overwhelming
sadness and emptiness consumes your world. At a loss of how to cope you contemplate self-harm
and even suicide. If you can picture yourself in this situation, you can understand why depression
is such an important topic for college students. Depression is a very frightening and real
experience.
Spreading awareness is the most effective way to prevent this issue. The easiest way of
doing so at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) is through the use of

Page 2
WiiFit
UWRT 1102
Professor Rothwell
4/7/2015

informative posters/fliers on campus. They can be hung up on the push boards of all of the
common areas in facilities and also in the dorms. Included on this poster are some facts, visuals,
and contact information for those in need.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suicide is the tenth
leading cause in death among Americans and is the third-leading cause of death among young
people ages 10 to 24. Just in this past school year alone, UNCC has experienced three known
suicides on campus. These facts have been made aware to us by the local news and direct emails
from the Chancellor. This is a personal example because it is directly related to our student body.
These suicides have influenced our group to pursue this topic in hopes to save at least one life.
We realize that we cannot completely prevent suicide, but the risks have risen so high, the least
we can do is try and help by lending support and knowledge on the topic.
I Bleed Memories
Depression is commonly defined as a mood disorder causing a persistent feeling of
sadness and a loss of interest. There are many different types of depression. Included are: major
depression, persistent depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, situational depression and psychotic
depression. The most common form is major depressive disorder. Symptoms of this type of
depression include; loss of interest or pleasure in daily activities, weight loss or gain, trouble
sleeping, tired without energy, feeling worthless, trouble concentrating, and at worse; thoughts of
suicide (Types of Depression).
Most college students do not believe depression is an issue on their own college campus
until they hear of a depression epidemic or a case of suicide. However, around forty-four percent
of college students nationwide have reported feeling some form of symptoms related to this issue

Page 3
WiiFit
UWRT 1102
Professor Rothwell
4/7/2015

(National Institute on Mental Health). Also, nine percent of college students have reported
having thoughts of suicide since the beginning of college (Professional Psychology: Research
and Practice). Fortunately, 80 to 90 percent of people that seek mental health treatment can
return to a normal, functional life.
Through our research we have learned that the symptoms of depression can be managed
with a combination of natural treatments, therapy, and sometimes medication. Some of these
natural treatments can be: learning how to control your behavior, increasing physical activity,
and changing your way of thinking and lifestyle. If these natural treatments do not uplift your
mental illness, then seeking medical help should be the next step. Upon being diagnosed by a
professional, you should discuss which treatment option is best for you.
A professional can be found at UNCC in the counseling department. Any nonprescription treatment provided is free of charge to students through their tuition bill and is
located in the College of Education building (COED). However, the type of treatment you
receive is based on the type of depression you are diagnosed with. Some patients are treated with
psychotherapy, which is the treatment of mental disorder by psychological means, and others are
prescribed antidepressant treatments. Antidepressant treatments can help elevate your mood and
ease the sadness and hopelessness you feel. Your brain contains three chemicals that regulate
mood. These chemicals are norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. These chemicals send
signals to the brain cells. Depression exists when there is a chemical imbalance between the two.
Anti-Depression medicines modify the brain chemicals, which improves your mood.
Researchers have found that many individuals experience depression during their college
years, but unfortunately are not getting the help they need. As stated before, most students do not

Page 4
WiiFit
UWRT 1102
Professor Rothwell
4/7/2015

believe that depression is an issue. Not only are college students not aware of how common
depression is, they are also not aware of how serious the illness is itself. Many sufferers keep
their illness to themselves because they think it is normal or they are too afraid to face reality.
Teenagers often become fearful of their peers judging them, which make them hold back from
the truth. Others don't get help because they think their symptoms are just part of the typical
stress of college, or they worry about being judged if they seek mental health care (National
Institute of Mental Health).
Be the Change You Want To See in the World

The topic researched was depression among college students. Our research was
conducted by using the Internet along with magazines, library books, and YouTube videos. We
had to begin with basic research because our knowledge of the subject was not optimal. After
gaining an in depth understanding of depression, we began researching depression primarily
among college students and looked for specific articles pertaining to our topic. Through research,
we learned that there are different types of depression and the numerous treatments available.
After gaining a firm grasp on the facts and statistics, we used our knowledge to begin our goal of
raising awareness on our campus. The first method we used was an informative table pertaining
to our topic that was located outside of popular locations on campus, such as the Student
Union and Prospector. These places were chosen because they are in the heart of campus and
are highly busy during the day by Niner students, our audience. The table included posters

Page 5
WiiFit
UWRT 1102
Professor Rothwell
4/7/2015

informing the public about depression along with


pictures as visuals, fliers as quick grabs, and a video
playing for passersby. We also offered candy to those
who stopped by as an incentive.
The second form of research that our group
organized was an interview. We approached multiple
random students on campus and asked them one
question. We first asked a group of five students in the
union if they knew how common depression was on our
campus. The next set of interviewees were a few
classmates who were asked if they personally knew of anyone of their colleagues that have
depression. For our last question we asked some students at a UNCC baseball game if they knew
where to seek help on campus if they are struggling for a friend is. These three questions were
picked specifically to support our topic.

What Exactly Happened?


Student

Question Asked

Response

Student #1

How aware are you of


depression among our
campus? Did you know there
has been 3 suicides on this
campus this year?

I know that people struggle


because of how common it is
in general but I dont know
anything beyond that. I did
not know of any suicides.

Student #2

How aware are you of


depression among our
campus? Did you know there
has been 3 suicides on

I am not aware at all. I see


flyers in some buildings that
it is. I am not aware of any
suicides on campus.

Page 6
WiiFit
UWRT 1102
Professor Rothwell
4/7/2015

campus this year?


Student #3

How aware are you of


depression among our
campus? Did you know there
has been 3 suicides on
campus this year?

I knew about one of the


suicides but not the others.
I know there is a problem on
campus though.

Student #4

How aware are you of


depression among our
campus? Did you know there
has been 3 suicides on
campus this year?

I knew about all of the


suicides from watching the
news.
I hear about it from word of
mouth not through campus
directly.

Student #5

How aware are you of


depression among our
campus? Did you know there
has been 3 suicides on
campus this year?

I knew there has been some


suicides but not sure how
many. I did not really know
any details.

Through our interviews we have concluded that only one out of five people know how
common depression is among college students. Only three of the five knew about the suicides on
campus and these interviewees only knew from seeing it on the news. This was not surprising
data because before we began this study we were also not fully aware which is the sole reason
for our project.

Page 7
WiiFit
UWRT 1102
Professor Rothwell
4/7/2015

Student

Question

Answer

Student #1

Do you know personally


know any of your colleagues
struggling with depression?

No. I feel like it is something


people keep to themselves.

Student #2

Do you know personally


know any of your colleagues
struggling with depression?

Yes, a girl in my dorm.

Student #3

Do you know personally


know any of your colleagues
struggling with depression?

Yes, a close friend.

Student #4

Do you know personally


know any of your colleagues
struggling with depression?

Yes.

Student #5

Do you know personally


know any of your colleagues
struggling with depression?

Yes.

As you can see, 4 of 5 personally know someone struggling with depression. That is a
very high statistic to see among students on our campus. Without asking, one would not be aware
of how relevant this problem is. It is left to be wondered if some of those interviewed are
depressed themselves, but choose not share this information for various reasons.

Page 8
WiiFit
UWRT 1102
Professor Rothwell
4/7/2015

Student

Question

Answer

Student #1

Do you know where to go on


campus if you or a peer is
struggling with depression?

No but I would guess the


student health center.

Student #2

Do you know where to go on


campus if you or a peer is
struggling with depression?

I think there is a counseling


center on campus but i'm not
sure where it is.

Student #3

Do you know where to go on


campus if you or a peer is
struggling with depression?

Yes. There is a counseling


center on campus. But i think
you have to pay for your
visits.

Student #4

Do you know where to go on


campus if you or a peer is
struggling with depression?

Yes. There is a counseling


center on campus.

Student #5

Do you know where to go on


campus if you or a peer is
struggling with depression?

No. I don't know where you


would go. I'm not familiar
with services offered on
campus.

Two of five students interviewed knew where to go for help if struggling with depression.
One of those two people knew there was a counseling center but was unaware of where it is
located. The other person was under the impression that you had to pay to visit the counselor.
These are basic examples of the innocence of knowledge in students attending UNCC of our
topic.

Page 9
WiiFit
UWRT 1102
Professor Rothwell
4/7/2015

Its Always Worse Than It Seems


Knowing what we do from our research, the collective extrapolation from our personal
inquiry and experimentation is anything but surprising. Our group recovered some interesting
facts in our research, one in particular indicated that people are generally unaware of depression
and suicide in their community; this is probably due to its unsettling nature that makes it a sort of
taboo. There leads us to an expectation that this prevalent disorder remains mostly unrecognized
in the eyes of the average Niner, although it affects 44% of the population. Most of the students
interviewed in the first questioning responded with little or no knowledge of how common
depression and suicide are.
Students are very unaware of what is really going on around them, past the fake smiles
and held back tears. In the second round of questions asked to strangers, most participants stated
that they had personal experience with those with depression. Awareness must be raised so that
students can feel comfortable expressing how they feel instead of harmfully bottling those
emotions. We have learned how to cope with the adversity we face in college.
There are ways to find help on campus and it is very easily accessible, which some
students aren't even aware of. Our goal is to change that, by informing them where to go when
they need help. Students in need of help are realizing that somebody does care and that there is
treatment available, this is a double whammy supplement.
The results we collected were disheartening. Many Niners are ignorant to the struggle
that so many of their peers face. Unfortunately, some Niners were not even aware of the three
suicides that occurred on campus.

Page 10
WiiFit
UWRT 1102
Professor Rothwell
4/7/2015

Our results are immeasurable to a certain extent. Anyone can compile the amount of
suicides and hospitalizations, but our group is aiming to be proactive and not reactive. We cannot
count how many people viewed our posters and signs and felt more confidence; all we know is
that every effort counts when trying to save a life.
The college experience is a tough trial for a person. Their first taste at independence
seems free and autonomous at first, but it quickly turns lonely and desolate when reality sets in.
The transition from a safe and established lifestyle to a foreign world causes some to get scared
and recluse. The more lonely and sad the person feels, the worse the symptoms become,
eventually pushing all socialization away. Generally speaking, loneliness but an illusion; family
members and life-long friends are as close as a phone call away. UNC Charlotte even has a
counseling center for its many practical uses.
As Henry David Thoreau said the most you can do for a friend is simply be a friend.

End of the Line


Depression is an epidemic facing all college students today. Within the past few years
depression and suicide rates have both skyrocketed. After becoming emotionally invested, our
group, Wii Fit came to the conclusion that the best way to fight this growing problem is to
spread awareness and we dedicated ourselves to this. By setting up tables in Prospector and the
Student Union, hanging up posters and fliers around campus, and simply asking random students
what they knew about depression, our group helped to spread awareness. Not only did this
cause more students to become more aware of the crisis, but it could potentially save a life in the
future.

Page 11
WiiFit
UWRT 1102
Professor Rothwell
4/7/2015

Other alternative solutions:


Outside of what we have done, there are many other courses of action we can take to raising
awareness of students at UNC Charlotte. For example:
1.Hand out green ribbons:
Green ribbons are a symbol of mental health issues, and one of the main issues is depression. By
handing out green ribbons, we can help raise awareness. We think it is a good solution. However,
because raising awareness on mental health is a broader topic and we just want to focus on
depression so we crossed out this idea.
2. Make a Facebook page:
In the beginning, we had an idea that we would make a Facebook page to raise awareness on
depression where students can join in and start conversations about how to deal with depression.
On that page, every one who have problem with any kind of depression can post their questions
and receive helps from other students. But making a Facebook page requires a lot of work and
we cannot make a good page in a short time period. We then decided, instead, we should redirect
students to bigger depression communities that are already on Facebook like: Defeat
Depression or Depression Recovery Groups.

3. Using the Radio Free Charlotte (UNCC):


We thought that making a short radio commercial about depression facts and where you can seek
help would also be effective. This would target those who were currently listening to the radio
and could possibly make an impact. After considering that not many of college students listen to
radio the regularly, we agreed that this would not be the most effective way to spread awareness.

Page 12
WiiFit
UWRT 1102
Professor Rothwell
4/7/2015

Knowing Is Half The Battle:


In this study, we found that many people are aware of there are many depressed people
around them. But it seems like they dont know what to do to help their friends, colleagues or
even themselves when it came to fighting depression. Four out of five students in the survey
knew someone who experience depression and two out of five student know where to go to seek
help. For us, that is an alarming rate of student ignorance on depression. After this project, we
realize that there is a high need of raising awareness among college students to provide them the
information they need and where to seek help when they feel depressed. To do that, we need to
take more action towards raising awareness on this campus. Outside of having a table where
students meet face to face providing information, we can also use other alternate solutions like:
making a Facebook page for the UNC Charlotte community helping each other fight with
depression, and even have people from the counseling center give a speech for first year student
on depression. By doing so, we not only hope to reduce the number of depression college
students but also increasing the quality of life for students on campus and make the college
experience more meaningful to all.

Page 13
WiiFit
UWRT 1102
Professor Rothwell
4/7/2015

Bibliography
"Depression." National Institute of Mental Health, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 1 Apr. 2015.
Iarovici, Doris. Mental Health Issues and the University Student. , 2014. Internet resource
National Institute on Mental Health (2005, June 6). Mental illness exacts heavy toll,
beginning in youth
Suicide and depression among college students: A decade later.Furr, Susan R.; Westefeld,
John
S.; McConnell, Gaye N.; Jenkins, J. Marshall Professional Psychology:
Research and
Practice, Vol 32(1), Feb 2001, 97-100.
"Types of Depression: Major, Chronic, Manic, and More Types." WebMD. WebMD. Web.
1 Apr. 2015.