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Spark Hope

Man wearing t-shirt that says “hope is real” on the back looks out window.
Donors to a UCLA Spark campaign raise support for the UCLA Depression Grand Challenge’s student treatment project.

An unprecedented problem mandates an unprecedented response, one that employs a vast array of contributions. UCLA Depression Grand Challenge (DGC) is such an effort. In the mix are experts and students from a variety of disciplines and departments, technology and discovery neuroscience, clinical care, and monetary gifts large and small.

Together they are addressing the leading cause of disability and loss of productivity and the major risk factor for suicide — which claims one life every 30 seconds and features far too often in daily headlines. Depression soon will be the largest contributor to the global burden of disease.

Giving Students the Support They Need

A crowdsourcing campaign conducted through UCLA Spark recently raised $30,000 for the DGC. Donors Laurie and Steven Gordon, Jan and Bill Mitchell, and Shari and Garen Staglin gave a boost with challenge gifts to the campaign. In sum, 72 generous donors participated.

The DGC is using the funds to advance its component that hits closest to home — the DGC Student Project. Worldwide awareness of mental health challenges on college campuses is growing, and the DGC is already on the front line. Sometimes, numbers speak louder than words: As part of the project, 4,269 students completed online screening for depression and risk of depression. More than 700 of them signed up for the innovative internet cognitive behavioral therapy treatment study. One hundred and forty-three students were identified for suicide risk, 102 for mania, and 187 for severe depression. Each of them received risk assessment and potential treatment from the DGC clinical team.

“This project is a safety net and a lifesaver,” says Laurie Gordon. “And with proper funding, it can be those things on a very large scale, improving and saving lives in communities near and far.”

Published June 2018

More Stories: Students, David Geffen School of Medicine / Health Sciences, Health & behavior, Students & campus