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National Depression Screening Day is Tomorrow!

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. was Director of Mental Help Net from 1999 to 2011. Dr. Dombeck received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 1995 ...Read More

Wondering if maybe you are depressed (or otherwise distressed) enough to merit treatment from a mental health professional? Tomorrow, Thursday, October 5th, 2006, is National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) in the United States. NDSD is an annual opportunity for you to receive a free professional screening for depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, alcohol and drug addictions and similar problems that can benefit from professional care.

There are two ways to take advantage of this mental health screening opportunity. Online screening is available throught the MentalHealthScreening.Org website. In-person screening is available through a network of clinics and clinicians who have generously volunteered their time to this cause. Click here for a directory of in-person screening event providers.

Online screening is more private, but offers you less information. You get to talk to an actual mental health professional for free at an in-person event. If you have the choice, go to an in-person event and talk to someone in person.

Both online and in-person screening methods offer you the opportunity to take screening tests that can help you understand whether you are showing symptoms consistant with a treatable mental disorder. There is a depression screening test, for instance, that you can take if you think you might be depressed, and an anxiety test to take if you think you might be clinically anxious. Screening tests are not diagnostic and cannot be used to yield a diagnosis for a condition or disorder. You cannot say to yourself "I’m clinically depressed" just becuase you score high on a screening test. Such tests do serve as pointers and indicators, however. If you do score highly on a screening test for depression, there is a good chance that you are depressed, for example.

Because of the uncertainty inherent in screening test results, it is particularly helpful for you to take such a test at an in-person screening event, becuase when at such an event you have the opportunity to briefly discuss your results with an actual mental health professional; a trained doctor, therapist or counselor depending on where you go. Participating in the screening event and speaking with a professional is offered as a community service for which there is no charge, so this sort of thing is a good opportunity to talk with a professional who can help you to know whether treatment is appropriate. Clinics and clinicians participate because it is the right thing to do to care for people in need, and also becuase they know that if you meet and like them and also need care, you are more likely to want to work with them, and they may gain patients. It can be a win-win for everyone involved.

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