Organization Offers Online Self-assessments for Depression
From a Military Pathways News Release
WELLSLEY HILLS, Mass., Oct. 10, 2012 Anonymous, online mental health screenings are available to service members, veterans and their families in conjunction with tomorrow’s observance of National Depression Screening Day.
Depression affects about 17 million people in the United States, yet almost a third do not seek treatment, officials said, noting that depression is treatable, and diagnosing it early allows for faster and easier treatment.
Each year on National Depression Screening Day, Military Pathways, a Defense Department-funded initiative, offers the screenings at http://www.MilitaryMentalHealth.org. Service members, veterans and their families can access the site 24/7 to see if they have symptoms of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or a related disorder, and get information on how and where to get help.
"Depression is usually a more serious and sustained problem than simply having a bad day or feeling stressed,” said Dr. Robert Ciulla, director of the Mobile Health Program at the National Center for Telehealth and Technology. “Unfortunately, many people do not know how to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression or where to seek help. An online screening, in the privacy of one's own home, is a good first step in getting a better understanding of the problem."
Defense Department leaders have stressed repeatedly that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Recognizing and treating depression in its early stages before a person reaches a crisis situation is a key factor in addressing this important health issue, officials said.
Symptoms of depression can include:
-- Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" feelings;
-- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed;
-- Decreased energy or feeling tired all the time;
-- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism;
-- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness;
-- Irritability or restlessness;
-- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions;
-- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness or excessive sleeping;
-- Overeating or appetite loss; and
-- Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts.
Military installations around the world will recognize National Depression Screening Day with events that encourage screenings, educate service members and promote good mental and physical health. Since 2006, more than 250,000 screenings have been completed online at http://www.MilitaryMentalHealth.org.
Military Pathways gives service personnel and their families the opportunity to learn more about mental health and alcohol use through anonymous self-assessments offered online. The program is designed to help individuals identify symptoms and access assistance before a problem becomes serious. The self-assessments address alcohol use, PTSD, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder and adolescent depression.
After completing a self-assessment, individuals receive referral information, including TRICARE, Military OneSource and the Veterans Affairs Department. The program is run by the nonprofit Screening for Mental Health, Inc. and is funded by the Defense Department with support from the Center for Telehealth and Technology.