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Campus Health screens for depression

In the past six months, Campus Health implemented a new system to screen every student who comes in for depression.

Maureen Windle, associate director and clinical director for Counseling and Psychological Services, said primary care doctors screen every patient for mental illness.

“It’s called the PHQ-2 and it simply has two questions, and if a student responds in the affirmative in those two questions, then they go ahead and give the full PHQ-9 which is nine questions — it’s the full screen,” Windle said.

The PHQ-2 is a patient health questionnaire administered by health care providers all over the country.

Allen O’Barr, director of CAPS, said he thinks implementing the PHQ-2 test will help Campus Health refer patients to CAPS, where they can meet with a therapist and find resources they need.

“We work tightly together, along with wellness as well,” O’Barr said.

Windle said she also appreciates Campus Health’s assistance in finding students who need help and connecting them with resources.

“We recognize that many students come into the health service even if they have psychological concerns, because it is easier to visit your primary care doctor, if you will, sometimes than thinking about going to see a therapist, so we appreciate their ability to refer students upstairs,” Windle said.

O’Barr said many students aren’t aware of all of the resources available to them. “I think it’s a big university, and it’s hard for 100 percent of people to know where things are,” he said.

O’Barr and Windle agreed the PHQ-2 questions should be asked in a non-judgmental way.

“The more we try to manage those questions, the more I think we stigmatize those particular challenges, and the more we ask them in a matter-of-fact way, the more we acknowledge that lots of people experience depressive symptoms,” Windle said.

Nicholas Hastings, vice president of UNC’s National Alliance on Mental Illness on Campus, said he thinks there is a stigma surrounding mental illness and that the questions asked by Campus Health can help students get the help they need.

“I think that it’s very good that it’s being addressed because it is something that impacts people greatly,” Hastings said.

While the PHQ-2 test is a recent addition for Campus Health, their interest in mental health is not. “For a long time, primary care folks have been interested in mental health and referring, but this allowed them to formalize it by every time asking those questions,” Windle said.

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