October 10 is National Depression Screening Day (NDSD), the nation’s oldest voluntary, community-based screening program that provides access to a validated screening questionnaire and referral information for treatment.
More than half a million people each year have been screened for depression since 1991, and it’s a program that is important to veterans in light of the rise of suicide among returning service members and the brisk activity at the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line. Two out of three people who commit suicide are depressed, according to studies.
In a press release, Screening for Mental Health noted that more than 1,000 organizations nationwide will be providing free, anonymous screenings on Oct. 10. “More than 80 percent of people with depression can be effectively treated with simple lifestyle changes, medication, the help of a trained professional or a combination of all three,” says Douglas Jacobs, M.D., associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the founder of Screening for Mental Health. “Members of the public need to be able to recognize if the feelings they are having are associated with depression and to seek treatment if necessary. An easy way to do this is to take a self-assessment at an in-person event or online.”
In 2012, there were 280 in-person screening events in the U.S., with more than 15,000 screened online through participating websites or community-based programs.