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Today is the 25th Anniversary of National Depression Screening Day

     

This year marks the 25th anniversary of National Depression Screening Day (NDSD), an awareness event sponsored by Screening for Mental Health. I just wanted to take a moment to recognize the great work that has been and continues to be done in combating chronic mental illnesses like depression.

What began in 1990 as a way to educate people across the nation about mental health and connect them with support services has grown considerably, and now has a home at thousands of colleges, community organizations and military installations all over the country. The excellent, important work that Screening for Mental Health has done with this and its other national screening efforts makes me proud to serve on the organization’s board of directors.

There is still much more work to be done as we strive toward a world where everyone with mental illness can get the treatment they need, and live happier, healthier lives.

Even though most of us know someone who has experienced a mental health concern, the stigma associated with seeking mental health care is still a major barrier to treatment. People who suffer from serious mental illness, such as depression that goes untreated, are more likely to have chronic medical problems and on average die much earlier than most Americans.

That is why events like NDSD are so important, not just for raising awareness of this serious issue, but also because they help facilitate better access to treatment for those among us who need it most. People with mental illnesses can and do get better, and measures like preventative mental health screenings are essential to making sure that happens.

NDSD’s optional screening tool, which is anonymous and completely free, is a great way for members of the public to get some insight and awareness into their own minds and overall well-being. I encourage you to visit helpyourselfhelpothers.org and find a screening location or take a few minutes to participate in an online screening yourself.

Of course, creating awareness for mental health issues is not enough on its own. Community mental health programs need the support of national public health groups if true progress is to be made to ensure people with serious mental illness receive the help they sorely need. If the goal is to live in a world where mental health issues are viewed and treated with the same gravity as physical ailments, we will all need to work together to combat stigma and other barriers to treatment.

     

Post by Saul Levin M.D., M.P.A.

Saul M. Levin, M.D., M.P.A., is APA's CEO and Medical Director. Read Dr. Levin's full biography

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