The concept of checking in on your physical health has been ingrained since childhood; the yearly check-up with a general physician, the six-month check-ups with a dentist, and annual blood-work. We know the drill. But what about screening for mental health and depression, in particular?
With nearly 350 million people suffering from depression globally, and more than half of people who commit suicide experiencing some form of depression, it seems screening for this, among other mental health disorders, is rather pertinent. Most, if not all of us, have experienced some overwhelming situations that cause extreme stress and sadness. And knowing the difference between what’s a transient episode and a chronic mental illness could be potentially life saving.
That’s why Screening for Mental Health, Inc. created the National Depression Screening Day twenty-five years ago. Pioneered as the first, voluntary mental health screening initiative, it has now expanded to thousands of colleges, community-based organizations, and military installations providing the program to the public each year.
The goal is by offering ways to get free screenings, people will start taking their mental wellness more seriously. “A check up from the neck up…makes a difference,” said Michelle Holmberg, director of programs at Screening for Mental Health, Inc. These screenings are paramount in not only helping individuals understand their mental ailments, but also understand, that while it won’t be overnight, there is a treatment for it.
Not only will it be an illuminating experience for those participating in the screening, but for their loved ones as well. Experts stress the importance of persistence when it comes to encouraging others to get help and support is vital to success, and being there for that initial screening is the first step. “By offering to go with them, you’re not only being supportive, but you’re telling them that what they have is treatable and not just brushing it off as something that’s no big deal,” said Gregory Dalack, M.D., chair of the department of psychiatry at the University of Michigan.
National Depression Screening Day, which will be on October 8th this year, is held annually during Mental Illness Awareness Week. While it offers a range of clinician-created evaluations as well as potential further evaluations and treatment options, the NDSD has a goal of addressing mental illness stigma in a more productive way. By creating awareness, a message of commonality amongst those diagnosed with disorders and a community of support will be perpetuated to the public.