NASHVILLE, Tenn. – This is National Depression Screening Day, and mental health experts say that just as people might screen for diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure, a depression screening provides a quick way to spot the first signs of a serious mental health issue.
Tom Starling, CEO of the advocacy organization Mental Health America of the MidSouth, says more than 41,000 Tennesseans have completed screenings during the past four years.
“About 90% of all suicides are related to undiagnosed mental illness, primarily depression,” Starling points out. “And that’s why it’s important to be preventive and have an early intervention and to know that you’re not alone, that what you’re going through is real, treatable.”
The anonymous, evidence-based screenings are available online at mhaMidSouth.org.
Depression rates are on the rise nationwide, particularly among youths.
According to federal data, in Tennessee more than 30% of adolescents experiencing a major depressive episode between 2011 and 2015 received treatment for their depression.
Starling stresses that even if an individual can’t afford to see a doctor, an online screening is free and easily accessible.
“It’s a great tool, usually just nine, 10, 11 questions that will definitely give you a solid indicator that you have depression,” he states.
Starling also points to a nationwide crisis text line – a free, 24/7, confidential text message service – for people in crisis.
“Just by being able to connect to a trained crisis counselor, 24/7, that’s the best way to go if you’re a youth or an adult, or you’re in a rural area, you can always text for help to talk to somebody about local resources in your area,” he states.
Text 741-741 to reach a crisis counselor.