Depression is a worldwide problem, and the number of people who have depression has been increasing over the past several years. However, one organization is working on getting people the help they need through a first important step: depression screening.
Screening for Mental Health, Inc. is a nonprofit organization focused on improving the lives of those with a mental illness. The organization started the National Depression Screening Day, which is held Oct. 7 this year and generally coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week, according to Kathryn Quirk, marketing and communications manager for the organization. However, it can also be a “stand-alone event.”
“It really grew organically out of the … fact that depression, like any other health illness, is treatable,” Quirk said. “With screenings and with early detection, people can live healthy, productive lives.”
The organization found through research that over the past five years, there has been a “14 percent decrease in the number of Americans who are currently being treated for depression or who have received treatment in past.” However, there has been a 22 percent “increase in the very likelihood of depression” in women.
Since Jan. 1, 2010, the number of screenings has been 209,000. The goal this year is to reach one million screenings, Quirk said in an e-mail.
Quirk said that the organization commissioned a study in 2009 that found “confidential online screenings, which are highly accessible and non-threatening to users, do help with getting people into treatment.”
“The research from that study showed that 55 percent of the study participants who completed an online depression screening sought treatment within three months of completing the screening,” she said.
Screening for Mental health, Inc. was founded in 1991 with the start of its first campaign: screening individuals for depression. According to a fact sheet, the screening day was “the first large-scale public campaign for mental health education and screening in the country. Douglas Jacobs, a psychiatrist and associate clinical professor at Harvard Medical School, created the screening day.