Thursday, December 1, 2022

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Mental Health Highlighted on Depression Screening Day

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Monday, October 3, 2022   

With many people still struggling in the wake of the pandemic, this week's National Depression Screening Day on Oct. 6 is a reminder to Illinoisans to take stock of their mental health.

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

Mark Heyrman, chair of public policy for Mental Health America of Illinois, said screenings often help people realize they have a medical condition.

"Depression screening is an important tool to help people find out if they have depression," Heyrman emphasized. "People often don't know that they're depressed. They just may think that their feelings are normal, or they may not know that they have a treatable condition."

Statistics indicate one in five U.S. adults experiences mental illness each year, and about four in ten do not seek treatment. Mental Health America has a free online mental health screening website, at screening.mhanational.org.

Depression's effect on the country as seen through the data showed people who live with depression are at a 40% higher risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, and 70% of young people in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental health condition.

Heyrman pointed out depression is one of the costliest diseases in the world.

"The World Health Organization has consistently rated depression as one of the top five in terms of the 'burden of disease,' which is a category they use to measure the cost of various illnesses, including mental illnesses," Heyrman explained. "Depression is always among the most costly illnesses in the world, and certainly here in Illinois and the United States."

Heyrman added Mental Health America's screening website, created in 2014, screens for 10 different mental health conditions. He noted use of the website picked up after the pandemic.

"For the first number of years after we started providing this on our website, a few hundred thousand people a year were screening for depression and various other serious mental health conditions," Heyrman observed. "When the pandemic hit, that went up to several million a year. So now, more than 16 million people have been screened for depression on our website."

He added the screening is evidenced-based, anonymous and free.


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