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This Little Mental Health Screening Could Have a Big Impact When It Comes To Depression

depressedmanStress, sadness and overwhelming situations are a natural part of life -- but knowing the difference between what's a transient episode and what may be the signs of chronic mental distress could be a life saving observation. That's where depression screenings can come in.

 

"People stop and they check in on their physical health but they don't do the same with their mental health," Michelle Holmberg, director of programs at Screening for Mental Health, Inc., told The Huffington Post. "In the same way you would get a blood pressure screening ... why aren't people stopping to do mental health screenings? We pioneered this concept of large mental health screenings with the idea that even if people are just taking this one day to do a 'check up from the neck up,' then it makes a difference."

Each assessment is anonymous and can be done online or at a participating mental health center. There are tests available at HelpYourselfHelpOthers.org for college students, military members and their families and for the general public.

The evaluations feature a range of clinician-created questions focusing on how you're feeling and types of thoughts you're having, Holmberg said. Each test usually lasts between two to five minutes and will result in a score that suggests whether or not you may want to seek a further evaluation from a mental health professional.

In a world where nearly 350 million people globally suffer from depression, Holmberg says simple avenues -- like the screenings -- are paramount to helping individuals find quality treatment options. Researchers suggest that more than half of the people who die by suicide experienced some form of depression, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

While just one screening is only the beginning, experts stress the importance of persistence when it comes to encouraging others to get the help and support they need.

"It's not going to be an overnight cure, but being there during the process of treatment can help them see it through," said Gregory Dalack, M.D., chair of the department of psychiatry at the University of Michigan. "The only thing harder than encouraging someone to seek treatment is getting them to follow through and complete it. 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."

For more information about depression screenings, visit Screening for Mental Health, Inc.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

By Lindsay Holmes

 

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