National Bullying Prevention Month, Depression Screening Day at UIS

National Bullying Prevention Month, Depression Screening Day at UIS

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. The occasion has been marked since 2006 by the Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (PACER). UIS hosted a screening of the movie “Bully” on Monday to commemorate the occasion, and will also be holding depression screening days on Oct. 8 and 9.

The aptly titled event is dedicated to increasing unity among anti-bullying organizations and raising awareness about the issues facing our society. According to the PACER website, October is “a time when communities can unite nationwide to raise awareness of bullying prevention through events, activities, outreach, and education.”

UIS is staunchly against any form of bullying, and believes strongly in bullying awareness. Dr. Traci Van Prooyen, an assistant professor with the Department of Teacher Education, said “Bullying is not a ‘normal part of growing up’ and should not be ignored – it is harmful and can lead to negative physical, social, school, and mental health problems.”

Dr. Ronda Mitchell, another professor in the Department of Teacher Education, believes “Bullying is a serious problem and anyone can be the target of it. When students are bullied it can have an impact on their school work and cause stress-related illnesses. Students should get involved in the event so that they are aware of it in case it happens to them or someone they know.”

UIS is among the many groups promoting Bullying Prevention Month. On Oct. 6, The Illinois Education Association and Student Education Association, along with support from the UIS Counseling Center, showed a screening of the movie “Bully” along with a panel discussion about the nature of bullying following the movie.

As well as October being National Bullying Prevention Month, Oct. 9 is National Depression Screening Day. Screening for Mental Health’s webpage reads, “National Depression Screening Day is comprised of awareness events that include an optional screening component.” The UIS Counseling Center will be hosting depression screenings on both Oct. 8 and 9. Furthermore, the Counseling Center is also planning on hosting events for National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week.

While the Counseling Center does not have any other events planned for National Bullying Prevention Month, it is certainly open to any student who feels bullied on campus. Dr. Judy Shipp, director of the UIS Counseling Center, stated, “Students are always welcome to come to the Counseling Center for confidential, professional counseling. Our counselors can assist students with a variety of personal concerns including bullying and other forms of harassment and relationship violence.” These sessions are free of charge. The Counseling Center is located in the human resources building, and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Shipp also offered advice to students who feel bullied, claiming, “If a student is experiencing difficulties with bullying, he/she should reach out for support from a friend, a family member or professional counselor. If a student is feeling unsafe, he/she should call Campus police in his/her local area.

”Furthermore, Shipp mentioned the Dean of Students, Jim Korte, as a resource for students who require assistance.

In addition to the on campus events that acknowledge the month, PACER has declared Wednesday, Oct. 22 to be Unity Day. PACER asks that people wear orange clothing to demonstrate their unity in the fight against bullying. The web page for unity day states,

“If you care about safe and supportive schools and communities make your color orange on Unity Day. That’s the day everyone can some together – in schools, communities, and online – and send one large orange message of support, hope, and unity.”