Mental Illness Awareness Week is Oct. 7-13, and Alpha Pi Chi Chapter of Chi Sigma Iota, Counseling Academic and Professional Honor Society International, will offer free depression screenings after both 9 and 10 a.m. chapel in the Liberty Room on Oct. 11.
Graduate student Lillian Chen, president of Alpha Pi Chi Chapter, said the screenings will be confidential, and they plan to give students a list of counseling resources.
“Our job is to be a service to the ones [who] are struggling emotionally,” Chen said.
Graduate student Morgan Harville, secretary of Alpha Pi Chi Chapter, said while they cannot diagnose anyone since it is a screening, they can refer students to the counseling center or other resources around Searcy. She said the screening will likely be a short questionnaire.
The honor society also hosted Mental Health Awareness Night, a panel in the Founders Room on Oct. 4. The panel included six professionals that represented the different fields in contact with mental health. Through prepared questions and questions posed by students, the panel offered information about mental health, mental illness and stigma.
“If we can help even just a few people realize that … this is really common, a lot of people struggle with it, and they shouldn’t be ashamed of it, then we’ve done our work,” Harville said.
They invited several student organizations to set up booths at the panel: Harding Criminal Justice Association, Love Your Neighbor, HUBrave and HU NAMI.
HU NAMI is the Harding chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and senior Yovani Arismendiz, president of HU NAMI, said the national efforts of NAMI helped bring about Mental Health Awareness Week. The U.S. Congress established Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) in 1990, according to the NAMI website.
“Mental Health Awareness Week shouldn’t be the only time we think of mental health,” Arismendiz said. “We should think about our mental health every day at every moment, and I would encourage people to get informed, educate themselves about mental health, mental illness, kill the myth and most importantly fight the stigma.”
Lew Moore, professor of counseling and chair of the marriage and family therapy program, has been the director of the counseling center since it began in 1980. He said anxiety is the most commonly reported emotional concern, and though about 40 million Americans experience anxiety to the point of affecting their quality of life, less than 25 percent will seek help.
“When things get to the point that they can’t resolve it and it doesn’t dissipate in a relatively quick way, then we encourage them to seek help,” Moore said. “That’s really what mental health awareness is about: encouraging people to, first of all, be aware of the need they have and seek the resources to assist them.”