by Diane Gramann
WHAT IS DEPRESSION?
Depression affects all walks of life. From young adults to the elderly and across all races, nearly one in 10 people in the U.S. suffer from depression. Screening for depression allows individuals to identify warning signs early and connect with the appropriate treatment resources. Early recognition and treatment offers the best opportunity for recovery. “Recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that about half of American adults will develop a mental illness at some point in their lifetime,” says Tom Starling, President and CEO of Mental Health America of Middle TN. “It’s important to learn the signs and symptoms of depression, such as changes in appetite, loss of energy or loss of interest in your usual activities, as well as the necessary steps you can take to improve your health.”
WHAT IS NATIONAL DEPRESSION SCREENING DAY?
National Depression Screening Day (NDSD), held annually on the Thursday of the first full week in October, is dedicated to raising awareness and screening people for depression. NDSD is the nation’s oldest voluntary, community-based screening program that gives access to validated screening questionnaires and provides referral information for treatment. Through this program, Mental Health America of Middle TN is offering free, anonymous mental health screenings through their website at www.mhamt.org. Online mental health screenings are a free and easy way for people to monitor their mental health and learn about local treatment options.
WHEN IS NATIONAL DEPRESSION SCREENING DAY?
NDSD is October 10, 2013, but screenings are available online 24/7 any day of the year just by visiting www.mhamt.org and can be taken anonymously.
HOW ARE THEY ADMINISTERED?
Thousands of organizations nationwide register to host a NDSD event each year. The organizations, including hospitals, community centers, social service agencies, government organizations, older adult facilities, colleges, secondary schools and military installations, provide information about depression and offer screenings—in-person or online—to their community. After completing a screening, those who score positive receive referral information to local agencies that offer further evaluation and treatment if needed. Although the online screenings are not diagnostic, they do provide valuable insight helping to identify if someone is exhibiting symptoms associated with depression and if they should seek help.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Depression screening is effective. Results from a 2009 independent research study by the University of Connecticut states that depression screenings are effective in connecting individuals at risk with treatment. The study showed that 55% of participants, who completed an online depression screening and who agreed to participate in a follow-up survey, sought depression treatment within three months of the screening.
ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH AMERICA OF MIDDLE TN
Mental Health America of Middle TN (MHAMT) is dedicated to promoting the improvement of mental health by providing the public with education, screening, and treatment resources. Founded in 1946, MHAMT offers programming and services for Information and Referral, Aging and Alzheimer’s, Multicultural Outreach, Erasing the Stigma in schools, Postpartum Depression screenings, support groups, Mental Health Academy professional development training, and suicide prevention. Its mission is to connect the community with specialized mental health and wellness resources, provide services that improve the quality of life and promote effective services where mental health needs exist. We believe that mental illness is real and treatable, that every life is worth saving and that there is no health without mental health. For more information, contact 615-269-5355 or www.mhamt.org.