Screening for Mental Health provides innovative mental health and substance use resources, linking those in need with quality treatment options. Screening for Mental Health’s programs, offered online and in-person, educate, raise awareness, and screen individuals for common mental health disorders and suicide. The organization’s flagship program, National Depression Screening Day, is the nation’s oldest voluntary, community-based screening program that gives access to validated screening questionnaires and provides referral information for treatment.
Below is a Q&A with Ashley Boyd, a program manager at Screening for Mental Health, Inc.
What is National Depression Screening Day? How did it come about?
National Depression Screening Day is an annual campaign that raises awareness about mood disorders, such as depression, and provides the public with free, anonymous mental health screenings at helpyourselfhelpothers.org.
National Depression Screening Day was started over twenty-five years ago by our founder and medical director, Douglas Jacobs, MD. He saw his colleagues in the medical field screening for physical illnesses and thought he could screen for depression to give people more information about their mental health.
This year, the campaign will focus on suicide prevention. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the suicide rate in the United States increased 24 percent from 1999 to 2014, making it the highest it has been in decades. In response, Screening for Mental Health developed stopasuicide.org, a resource that provides the public with information on the warning signs of suicide and the action steps to take to save a life. We believe that everyone has the power to reduce the suicide rate by speaking about suicide, knowing how to respond when they notice the warning signs, and taking action to get someone the help they need.
Is there an age limit on who can take the screening? Is there a cost involved with taking the screening?
Our online screenings are for those 18 years of age and older. We do offer a screening for adolescent depression that can be taken by parents on behalf of their child. We provide the public screenings at helpyourselfhelpothers.org at no cost.
What happens after I take the screening?
After you complete the screening, you’ll receive results based on how you answered the questions. The results can help educate you on whether your symptoms are consistent with a mental health disorder. You’ll see a listing of resources in your area to contact for more information or help.
Can I take these results to a doctor/counselor?
Yes. Sometimes it can be difficult to start a conversation about mental health. Taking the results of your screening to a counselor or doctor can often help start that conversation. The screenings are educational and not diagnostic so it’s good to discuss the results with a medical or mental health professional for more information.
Are there things to look out for that may be indicators that a friend or family member is depressed?
Yes. Depression symptoms can vary by person, but some common signs and symptoms include:
- Changes in sleep or appetite
- Poor concentration
- Loss of energy
- Low self-esteem
- Hopelessness or guilt
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
We also think it’s important for people to know the warning signs of suicide. These include:
If your friend or family member says:
- Life isn’t worth living—it’s hopeless.
- My family would be better off without me.
- I won’t be around to deal with that.
- I wish I were dead.
Or if your friend or family member is:
- Acting recklessly.
- Preoccupied with death.
- Withdrawing from life, loved ones, or activities.
- Hopeless about their financial/work situation.
- Devastated by a relationship problem or breakup
For a complete list of warning signs of suicide and how to act to save a life, visit stopasuicide.org.
If you are concerned for a loved one, you can take a mental health screening on their behalf or encourage them to take a screening at helpyourselfhelpothers.org. If your loved one is talking about suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or go to the nearest emergency room.