The National Alliance on Mental Health reports 11% of American adults with mental illness lacked health insurance coverage in 2020. (Adobe Stock)

Depression Screening Day Raises Mental Health Awareness

While many people are still struggling in the wake of the pandemic, this week’s National Depression Screening Day, October 6, reminds Hoosiers to take stock of their mental health.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that the average time between the onset of symptoms of mental illness and treatment is 11 years.

Kelby Gaw, director of communications for Mental Health America-Indiana, said many people don’t realize they’re depressed and reaching them may require changing the way they think about it.

“By destigmatizing all mental health issues and making checking your mental health as important as checking your physical health, people who may not know they are showing signs of depression can get support. help,” Gaw noted.

Statistics indicate that one in five American adults suffers from mental illness each year, and 40% do not seek treatment. Mental Health America offers a free online depression screening test.

Symptoms of depression are varied and there are different speeds of onset of depression, several types of depression and different intensities as well.

Denise Johnson, senior practice associate for the National Association of Social Workers, said depression is more than a bad day.

“Depression is very common and can result from a number of social, psychological and biological factors,” Johnson pointed out. “It’s more than a ‘bad day’ or feeling down, and it’s not something people can get rid of. It negatively affects the way a person feels, the way they think, their behavior.”

Since so many people may not realize they have depressive symptoms, health experts are focusing on screening. Johnson explained that a screening looks at several factors.

“Typical screening is done by a licensed mental health professional and includes a set of questions about the severity and duration of symptoms,” Johnson pointed out. “It’s looking at eating and sleeping patterns, if a person has difficulty concentrating, if they’re irritable, if there are changes in their mood.”

Johnson added that the symptoms must last for at least two weeks and represent a change from the person’s previous level of functioning.

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