October 9th is National Depression Screening Day.
Organized by the nonprofit Screening for Mental Health, Inc. (SMH), the screening campaign serves as a supportive community initiative that raises awareness for depression and provides the public with the opportunity to identify the signs and symptoms of depression.
SMH is urging young adults to treat mental health like their physical health and take a free, anonymous mental health screening at www.helpyourselfhelpothers.org.
Hundreds of organizations across the country including community centers, hospitals, and colleges are hosting National Depression Screening Day health fair and online screening events. To find an event near you, visit helpyourselfhelpothers.org.
Young adults have consistently shown higher rates of depression and anxiety than any other age group, according to SMH’s online screening data for the past five years. This data is consistent with a recent report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), which states that one in five 18 to 25 year olds has experienced a mental illness and over 66 percent did not receive treatment. These reports highlight the need for young adults to recognize the symptoms of depression and anxiety in themselves and others and to seek treatment.
While young adults have the highest potential to minimize future disability from a mental health condition with early intervention, this age group shows the lowest rate of help-seeking behaviors, according to SAMHSA.
Like many physical illnesses, the earlier depression treatment can begin, the more effective it is likely to be. If left untreated, suicide can be a fatal response to this mental health disorder, particularly for young adults. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people aged 25 to 34 and the third leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 24.
"Depression is not weakness of character. It's a mental health issue that should garner the same attention as physical health," said Douglas Jacobs, M.D., founder and medical director, Screening for Mental Health, Inc. "National Depression Screening Day was created to raise awareness for mental health and have mental health screenings become as commonplace as blood pressure screenings. The more we raise awareness of depression and mental health, the more we can reduce stigma and get help to those in need."
"Mental health screening and access to effective treatment are essential because people with mental illnesses can and do recover. Early intervention can lessen severity, speed recovery, and save lives. Although almost all of us know someone with a mental health concern, stigma around seeking and accessing treatment remains a major issue in the U.S. and globally," said American Psychiatric Association CEO & Medical Director Saul Levin, MD, MPH.
The screenings offered as part of National Depression Screening Day are not diagnostic but will determine if someone is exhibiting symptoms associated with depression and other mood disorders and provide them with vital information as well as resources to seek help.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.