This week, the Calgary Counselling Centre is bringing awareness to a potentially life-saving tool, thanks to National Depression Screening Day.
“It’s a really brief screening test that gives some indication whether you need further assessment,” said Christine Molohon with the CCC. “It’s really quick and anonymous.”
The online test is free and meant to help people navigate their emotional well-being and whether they should reach out to someone for further support.
Molohon said thousands of people use the CCC’s services every year, and the organization has started to see an increase in clients over the course of the pandemic.
“One of the things we know is that a huge contributor to depression is stress and long-term stress, and we are expecting the pandemic to negatively impact people’s mental health overall,” she said.
“When the pandemic first hit, we saw our numbers go down for a couple of months… but now our numbers have gone up and they’re increasing.”
Alexis Tavares, 26, is one of those clients. She said her struggles with depression started when she was a child and became unmanageable in high school.
“I was dealing with bullying in school, and I was having a hard time getting along with other people. Unfortunately for me, it culminated in a [suicide] attempt when I was 16,” she said.
Tavares said she’s still thankful her mom walked in, stopping her from taking her own life.
“I know that it’s very cliché that everyone says, ‘Things get better,’ but they really do,” she said.
“I was able to do so much in my life that 16-year-old me could have never fathomed.”
Ten years later, Tavares said when the pandemic hit, she knew she needed to reach out to someone for support.
“I had recently just gone through a job change and then on top of that, the start of the COVID pandemic,” Tavares explained. “I found it challenging navigating how that was going to look and I was definitely struggling.”
After talking to a friend, Tavares decided to contact the CCC.
“I really needed someone to talk to and some help,” Tavares said. “I was really pleased that within two or three days, someone reached back out to me to try and make an appointment.”
Tavares hopes her story will help someone else who is struggling.
“I wish I had known that help was out there,” she said. “There are tons of helplines and websites available if you just need someone to talk to in a crisis situation.”
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