Depression in the African American Community


According to Healthline, 80 percent of individuals affected by depression do not receive any treatment. The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors reported that 36.4% of college students experienced some level of depression in 2013.


Depression is the number one reason students drop out of college. Just like at majority school, North Carolina A&T has counseling services that can compare.


Counseling Services provides personal counseling, academic skills training, career appraisals, testing/assessments, consultations, collegiate recovery community (CRC), groups, as well as outreach and practicums and internships for graduate students.


Though many students may not walk physically into their office, Dr. Vivian Barnette, executive director of Counseling Services, spoke of how outreach programs is a treatment modality and one of their pillars.


She wants the word ‘counseling services’ to be used as a household word. Most students who seek help in counseling services tend not to come on their own. “I met with about 5 students this week, who came from referrals,” said Dr. Barnette. She said it is quite popular to see that.


Thousands of college students across the nation are silently suffering from depression and anxiety, but a new four-question survey developed at Ball State University in Indiana could help young people screen for issues that often lead to academic failure and social dysfunction.


The Psychometric Properties of PHQ-4 Depression and Anxiety Screening Scale Among College Students, which assessed 934 college students and their psychosocial characteristics, to discover that about 10 percent of students reported having depression and 20 percent reported having anxiety diagnosed by a healthcare professional within the past year.


The study, the first of its type, was recently published in the Archives of Psychiatric Nursing.


“Among the many reasons for under diagnoses of depression and anxiety in college students, a prominent reason is the lack of reliable, efficient and time-saving way to screen for these mental health issues,” said Jagdish Khubchandani, a community health education professor at Ball State University. “Unfortunately, majority of the youth do not get timely treatment for mental health issues due to lack of diagnosis and even if they get treatment, it is inadequate or not disorder specific.”


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a national recommendation in February calling for routine screening for depression in adolescents and young adults.


Dr. Barnette stresses to students that success comes from proper self-care which is dependent on a person’s mental health.


Khubchandani and several colleagues developed a brief survey (see at the end of this article) to diagnose anxiety and depression and tested the survey properties. The students were given a 4-item survey to predict depression (2 questions) or anxiety (2 questions).


Researchers found the survey has 81 percent of successfully diagnosing anxiety and depression.


“Our 4-item survey is a valid, reliable, and efficient way to diagnose students with depression and anxiety,” Khubchandani said. “Timely detection may help students take steps to seek treatment and prevent future risk of health and social problems.”


The research team suggests usage of a 2-tier approach to screening and management of depression in college students. In the first step, students complete a brief screening questionnaire. Newer underclassmen could be assessed as part of freshman/transfer orientation programming or through a residence-life based initiative. To capture assessments of upper-classmen, a university’s counseling services could annually administer the questionnaire.


Khubchandani said students yielding positive scores on the brief screening questionnaire could be administered a more detailed and comprehensive screening tool for depression and anxiety.


If a student were to test positive on the longer versions of the screening tools, the healthcare provider would then discuss the results with the student, confirm a working diagnosis and create an action plan for treatment or referral, he said.


Though the same test is not used at A&T, students who think they are suffering from depression should seek help from counseling services. Students can contact them at 336.334.7727.


“Within my 9 years of working at A&T, I have seen major improvements in how this campus utilizes our services,” said Dr. Barnette.



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