A new program at Keene State College beginning this spring will teach students signs and  symptoms of depression.

Counseling Center Director Brian Quigley said the Ask/Listen/Act (ALA) program is available for any class, club, organization or group on campus, where the counseling center will speak to the group for an hour and 45 minutes regarding signs of depression and the importance of reaching out to the counseling center.

photo illustration by alexandria saurman / managing executive editor

photo illustration by alexandria saurman / managing executive editor

Quigley said the idea began when a 2016 American College Health Association survey completed by KSC students showed 37 percent of students said that in the previous 12 months they had felt so depressed it was difficult to function.

The same survey showed 11 percent had seriously considered suicide.

The National Alliance for Mental Health shows that one in four college students have a diagnosable mental illness and 40 percent of them do not seek help.

Quigley said the main focus of the program will help friends become better friends when it comes to mental health. “In our culture we stigmatize mental health challenges. We stigmatize the idea of reaching out to individuals. The second largest reason people come to the counseling center is because a friend referred them.”

Quigley said a different program used at KSC called the Student Support Network has already proven to be successful in helping students to become better friends when it comes to mental health.

The Student Support Network is a seven week training program in which the counseling center trains students who are elected by faculty.

Those students are trained on how to be aware of various types of mental health issues whereas ALA is specific to depression.

Active Minds is a club on campus that deals with mental health issues. President of Active Minds Courtney Heck said it is important to bring more light to the issue of mental health.

“1,100 college students commit suicide each year in the U.S.… each September we have a candlelight vigil to remember those who committed suicide in the previous year,” Heck said.

Quigley said it is important to teach college students about signs and symptoms of depression and suicide along with helping to give them resources.

“Young adulthood is a pretty critical time where we’re transitioning in our own development psychologically, physically and maturity wise. We transition to a time of dependence to a degree. So many decisions need to be made at this point in our lives and so many demands are placed on us. It requires a lot of stress and struggle,” Quigley said.

Heck said during Active Minds meetings, many of the students see the club as a safe place to talk about mental health issues that they face.

Modern Therapy is an online health care provider that is aimed mainly to help college students with issues regarding mental health.

Brandon Christensen is a co-founder of Modern Therapy and said the program allows users to be matched up with a counselor whom they can text and call throughout the day about their issues.

Christensen said people are more comfortable online and makes it so users don’t have to take the time out of their day to drive to a counseling center.

Co-founder Cassi Christensen said mental health is the center of everyone’s well being and it is important to remove the stigma of getting help.

To sign your class, club, team or organization up to participate in the Ask/Listen/Act program you can go to the KSC website and fill out the WooFoo form.

To learn more about Modern Therapy, go to Moderntherapy.online

Colby Dudal can be contacted at cdudal@kscequinox.com