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Free National Mental Health Screening Day

Natalie Staats Reiss, Ph.D. Updated: Oct 9th 2007

Mark your calendars for the 17th annual National Depression Screening Day. On this Thursday October 11, nearly 1,000 sites nationwide (community organizations, primary care providers, colleges and military installations) will offer free, anonymous mental health screenings for depression, suicide risk, bipolar disorder (where people swing between low and high extreme, severe, and sustained energy levels and moods), generalized anxiety disorder (chronic, excessive anxiety and worry that is difficult to control), and post-traumatic stress disorder (intrusive memories and excessive anxiety in the wake of a traumatic event). Mental health professionals will also be available at these sites to speak with individuals regarding the results of their screening or help discuss concerns with the loved ones and friends of people who may be experiencing symptoms (these consultations are also free). Referrals to local mental health professionals will also be available at the sites.

Mental disorders are relatively common conditions; over a third of the people in most countries across the world suffer from symptoms severe enough to cause distress. Mental disorders are also the leading cause of disability in North America and Europe. In terms of prevalence (the number of people in the total population with a specific illness) anxiety disorders (such as generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder) are the most common mental disorder worldwide, followed by mood disorders (such as depression and biploar disorder).

Screening is an important first step to receiving help. Many people suffer needlessly with a range of emotional, behavioral, cognitive (i.e., thinking) and physical symptoms that impair work, family and interpersonal relationships, as well as decreasing overall health and quality of life. Fortunately, we now have a wide array of treatment options available for people dealing with mental disorders and most people can experience significant improvement with time.

Screening tools are not intended to provide someone with a diagnosis; rather, they are designed as a starting point that can help someone identify areas of concern. For example, if you score high on a depression screening tool, you should make an appointment with a mental health clinician for a more detailed and personalized assessment of your symptoms and their causes. This in-depth assessment is then used to develop an individual treatment plan that is appropriate for you.

For more information about National Depression Screening Day, or to locate a site that is offering screening on October 11th visit This site also includes an anonymous on-line screening tool.

For more information about mental disorders, please click here to access our relevant topic centers /poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=1195&cn=144


Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Come on! - Hank Matthews - May 7th 2008

Honestly, do you really think the drug companies would be giving you money if the intent wasn't to continue medicating people?

Wouldn't it be great if we could solve depression and suicide without the long-term health implications of psychotropics?

Alas, we'll never know as long as groups like yours are beholden to vested interests for whom the bottom line is more important that anything else.

Depression Screening Day backed by Pharmaceuticals - Amy Gemoules - Oct 10th 2007

You might want to also do a little research on Screening for Mental Health, Inc. and their National Depression Screening Day.

They rake in millions from pharmaceutical companies.

Proof? See here:

National Depression Screening Day is a pharmaceutical scam.

Editor's Note: All of which is besides the point, I think.  While it would be great if there could be government sponsored mental health screening (and physical health screening, etc.) that just doesn't happen in America, so the task gets done in very haphazard ways, including through the sponsorship of pharma, and of course they are marketing their products as hard as they can to try to make more money, etc.  This is called capitalism, and it is the American way, for better and for worse.  It's not a scam if the motives are obvious, as they I believe they are.  To my mind, what is important is not so much the motive behind why screening occurs, but that screening occurs at all.  With screening, some people who need care but don't realize it become more aware that they need care.  Without it, there is more unrecognized and untreated suffering.  When properly administered, medications are not an evil thing.  Also, while the profit motive behind pharma marketing has its downsides for sure, it also results in the rapid devleopment of new medications that might not otherwise ever be created, which is a good thing in many cases.  I'm not sure I understand where your antipsychiatry/antipharma venom is coming from.  Care to explain it to me (us?).  We can devote an entire essay to the subject and though I may not agree with your position, I will work to insure it is represented to your satisfaction.  Please write to me at mark at centersite dot net.  


Screening - Federal Bill to Ban Funding - Amy Gemoules - Oct 9th 2007

There is a psychiatric / pharmaceutical plan to "suicide screen" every
child in the United States before they graduate from high school.
Evidence exists that shows massive pharmaceutical backing that will
result in even more overdrugging of kids with psychiatric drugs .

Can you take a moment to view this very short video? Click here:
(but before you do that - please read the editor's note below)

And then sign and forward this petition to your associates
and everyone you know? It already has over 23,000 signatures.

It's simply a race to inform enough parents so something can be done
about this.

Federal Bill to ban funding for screening here:

Editor's Note: A few things should be noted here: 

First and most important to the subject of this blog entry, "TeenScreen", which is what the commenter is upset about, has nothing whatsoever to do with the screenings that occur on National Depression Screening Day. the National Depression Screening Day screenings are completely voluntary by nature and really targeted at adults who aren't sure whether their issues are significant enough to qualify for treatment.

Second, the video (which is not really all that short, by the way) is quite biased against psychiatrists and makes an implicit assumption that psychiatric treatment is always a negative thing. A song plays in the background of the video to warn parents to "not let the psychiatrists take their children away" as thought these doctors are bogey men or trolls come to kidnap the kids. That's crazy talk, frankly. This video does not present any sort of balanced view of the issue.

As to whether TeenScreen is funded by drug companies, that is likely. That doesn't make it a bad thing necessarily. If screening helps identify a child who is at significant risk but is not getting care and this identification results in that child getting care and his or her risk (of death in some cases - suicide being a nceessarily lethal outcome) becoming reduced, that is not a bad outcome. There is an invasion of privacy issue of couse which needs to be dealt with -the program might be best presented as "opt-in" - but I see that as a separate issue.

During the video someone complains that the test used in TeenScreen generates too many false positives. That is the way that screening tests are designed to work, actually. Screening tests are purposefully designed to be overly inclusive so as to avoid making the opposite error, which would be missing someone who was actually suicidal but didn't get picked up. all tests are biased in one or the other direction (either fall positive or false negative results).  With a screening test, the idea is that there is a second, more precise  assessment that will be conducted which will catch the true false positive results and eliminate them from further consideration (e.g., treatment that they don't need!). 

I could go on about this, but the take home message is that there is more than one side to these sort of thing, and the reader/watcher is advised to keep an open mind until they have explored all the angles.  

We'll do a little research on TeenScreen and see if we can't write about it more definitively soon.  

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