Organizers of last weekend’s free depression screening at Mall St. Matthews were anticipating a large turnout. Instead, medical health professionals hoping to help hundreds plagued with the crippling disorder only talked with about a dozen visitors.
The low turnout was especially disappointing, according to even organizer Sandy Wright, because she was sure to secure a kiosk in a high-traffic area of the mall. The former tenant was popular hair-extension merchant, with a locale just outside of the entrance to the popular Wet Seal clothing store.
“I know that ‘Hair X-Tenze’ moved a lot of merchandise”, said Wright. “Once they sold out of (extensions) and closed up shop, I jumped on the chance to get this spot.”
Dr. Peter Dunn, who was on-site to conduct the screenings, said cloudy and cool weather conditions may have contributed to the poor turnout.
“People that suffer from depression often have feelings of worthlessness and guilt. Not to mention physical symptoms of fatigue. A sky full of clouds, with no sunshine in sight, may make those symptoms more intense, therefore lowering their motivation to come to a shopping mall for mental help”, said Dunn.
Wright was confident that a Chick-Fil-A sandwich giveaway would increase traffic to the kiosk, but after analyzing the weekend, she said that strategy may have back-fired.
“We may have made a mistake by offering a one-in-three chance at a complimentary Chik-Fil-A sandwich”, said Wright. “One of the winners was a teenager, and I saw her go directly from our kiosk to Chik-Fil-A, meeting up with some friends along the way, and I could swear they were laughing. Laughing! Imagine that. Not to mention that depression sufferers often suffer from a lack of appetite. So, you tell me why anyone suffering with this horrible disorder would go directly from our kiosk to claim a free chicken sandwich while laughing. It just doesn’t make sense. It was very disappointing to see that that young lady wasn’t depressed at all”.
Dunn said that he plans another screening in the spring, with a different approach.
“We may re-think our next free mall screening to address a disorder where sufferers are more likely to come out”, said Dunn. “Like, maybe narcissism”.