Confronting the stigma surrounding mental health issues starts with simply talking about them.

That’s a primary reason the university’s Counseling Center is holding its biggest event of the year, Mental Health Awareness Week. Led nationwide by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the week highlights the importance of curing the “virus” of stigma, as mental health conditions affect one in five Americans. Stigma may shame them into silence or stop them from seeking help, according to NAMI.

All this week, the Counseling Center is hosting activities encouraging students to recognize and freely discuss their mental health, including a conversation on Latinx self-care, a showing of the Pixar movie “Inside Out” and a discussion with international students on confronting stigma.

“This event really gets students engaged in the process of talking about mental health, which can be difficult for some people,” said Dr. Allison Asarch, staff psychologist and coordinator of consultation and outreach Services at the center.

Today, the center will host Depression Awareness Day from 11 a.m.–2 p.m. at the Stamp Student Union’s Student Organization Resource Center. All Terps are welcome to take a brief assessment and talk privately with a counselor about the results, learn more about mental health, find ways to help a friend or get information about the Counseling Center’s services.

In case you can’t make it to the event, here are five symptoms of depression to pay attention to in yourself and others:

  1. A loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
  2. Irritability or becoming frustrated with people or situations more easily
  3. A change in sleeping habits, such as sleeping more or restlessly
  4. A change in eating patterns, such as skipping meals or eating more than usual
  5. Expressing hopelessness or talking about or attempting suicide

If someone you know exhibits these signs, Asarch said, reach out, be compassionate and connect them with resources. The Counseling Center has a variety of services aimed at treating depression and other mental health concerns. Emergency visits are available for those in immediate need, and the After Hours Crisis Support line (301.314.7651) is available to all students outside of Counseling Center business hours.

Students can also download WellTrack, a free wellness app that offers mood tracking, meditation videos and coping skills strategies, using their student email address.