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Disability Awareness Month: Visible and Invisible Alike

October is Disability Awareness month and the WSU Vancouver Diversity Council, with other campus entities, will focus on educating students about visible and invisible disabilities. Events will be hosted throughout the month.

“[Disability Awareness month is designed] to raise awareness about the diverse experiences of people with disabilities on campus and in our community, challenge assumptions and stereotypes that society and people have regarding people with disabilities, celebrate success stories and recognize challenges of students with disabilities on our campus,” said Paula Achter, president of the Students with Disabilities Club.

On many occasions, it is visually evident that an individual has a disability. However, this is not always the case; sometimes the disability is invisible. Medical conditions, such as depression, are invisible disabilities. Disability Awareness month will touch on and educated these invisible disabilities.

Washington’s gloomy weather during the majority of the year contributes to high depression rates. College students also rank fairly high as well, resulting in Washington State college students at-risk to experience depression.

Of course, not every college student or individual in Washington is depressed. Still, tests show us that living in Washington as well as being a college student increase the chance for one to experience depression.

Though it is common to feel sad or depressed at times throughout one’s life, it is not common when these feelings persist for weeks, months or even years.

The level of depression college students or those living in Washington State experience correlates with our higher suicide rates as well. “Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death among all Washington residents and the second leading cause among youth ages 15-24,” as indicated on the department of health website.

It is important to note that not every instance of depression is considered a disability. As with most cases, until depression has a major effect on daily functionality, it is not considered a disability. This does not mean that minor cases are not important, however.

Though depression is not always a visible disability, it can be. Some individuals who are depressed may self-harm, leaving cuts, burns, scars on their body, gain or lose a significant amount of weight, have a “down” look and more. On the same token, these warnings are also easily hidden by those who are depressed as they oftentimes feel embarrassed about their emotions.

It is easy to dismiss that one friend’s negative attitude, or even cut off a relationship because of it. But there could be a chance that your friend is experiencing depression.

If you or someone you know may have depression, it is critical that you get help. As WSU Vancouver students, there are on-campus resources to tend to your needs. If you would like to see a counselor or get more information about resources for those who have depression, visit the counseling services website, or give them a call to set up an appointment at (360) 546-9238.

If you have more questions about identifying depression please visit the National Institute of Mental Health website or the Department of Health website for even more resources and information.

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