Professional News
Depression Screening Day Gears Up For 11th Outreach Effort
Psychiatric News
Volume 36 Number 14 page 10-10

National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) will be held on October 11 at many sites throughout the U.S. and Canada to help thousands of people with mood disorders find treatment, educate the public about mood disorders, and combat stigma related to mental illness.

The first NDSD took place 11 years ago with strong endorsement from APA, and since that time, more than 200,000 people have received professional help because of the event, according to Douglas Jacobs, M.D., NDSD founder and executive director.

"The American Psychiatric Association is an original sponsor of National Depression Screening Day, endorsing the idea from its very beginnings in 1991," said Jacobs. "My gratitude goes out especially to [former APA Medical Director] Mel Sabshin, M.D., a man of great vision and generosity, who supported NDSD from the time I approached him with the idea and who has served on our board of directors."

APA continues to support NDSD by helping to develop materials used for educating the public about mood disorders and about the role of the psychiatrist in treating mood disorders.

Screening for Mental Health Inc. (SMH) is the nonprofit organization behind the event and provides all sites with materials for distribution.

When individuals or sites register to participate in the depression screening, they receive a screening kit tailored to certain populations, such as those involved with community-based mental health programs, people being treated in the public sector, people who may be at risk for committing suicide, and older adults, for instance.

Registered screening sites will also receive the following materials:

Procedure manual: This includes instructions on how to implement the screening program and suggestions for screening strategies that have been used in previous sites.

Publicity guide: This includes ideas for local publicity opportunities such as public service announcements and news releases.

Expanded bipolar disorder screening: The Mood Disorder Questionnaire has been added to the NDSD materials and is the first validated brief screening instrument for bipolar spectrum disorder, according to SMH.

Spanish language kit: The expanded materials for the Spanish-speaking population include an educational lecture on depression and bipolar disorder, a Spanish-subtitled educational video, and brochures and posters.

Renewal kit: For screening sites that have materials left over from previous years, a smaller version of the NDSD kit is available for a reduced rate.

According to Jacobs, accurate diagnosis of both major depression and bipolar disorder are often delayed as much as 10 years as people either fail to seek help or go from clinician to clinician until the correct diagnosis is made. In a June press release from SMH, Jacobs said that the lag in diagnosis "delays treatment and exacerbates the negative effects on mental health and functioning, employment, relationships, and physical health and costs money in the long run as these patients become high utilizers of health care services."

This year, SMH reduced registration fees for public-sector sites that wish to participate in the depression screening. Normally, the fee is $125, but as a result of a grant from Eli Lilly and Company, the fee will be reduced to $25.

To qualify for the reduced fee, sites must fall into one of two categories—they must either be hospitals or clinics operating under a branch of local, municipal, or county government or facilities that maintain an "open door" policy. These facilities offer services regardless of patients’ ability to pay and have a patient mix that includes a substantial number of uninsured individuals and Medicaid recipients.

"With the support of APA, NDSD has been able to reach hundreds of thousands of people with information about mood disorders, screen them for their symptoms, facilitate their entry into treatment, and inform them about the role of psychiatry," said Jacobs.

Facilities interested in participating in National Depression Screening Day can call Screening for Mental Health Inc. at (781) 239-0071 to request screening materials or download a form at www.mentalhealthscreening.org/reg.

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