By David T. Jones, Commissioner, DBHIDS
According to Mental Health America, one of the nation’s leading community-based nonprofits dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness, one in five adults have a mental health condition — that’s more than 40 million Americans, or the populations of New York and Florida combined.
One of the most prevalent mental health conditions is depression, a disease of the mind that, if untreated, can have severe or even fatal effects on those who live with it, the people who know and love them, and even innocent strangers. That’s why we were pleased to once again participate in the 2017 National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) on Thursday, October 5. Held each October during Mental Illness Awareness Week, NDSD features of variety of events and awareness activities such as free depression screening. Throughout the day, DBHIDS staff and our partners were stationed in nearly 20 sites across the city offering people an opportunity to get a “check-up from the neck up” because we wholeheartedly believe that a person’s mental health is just as important as their physical health. In all, more than 100 people received a free screening through our NDSD event, getting access to services and information to help assess the state of their mental health.
This work is so important because mental health conditions are not just common, they are treatable and recovery is possible when the proper supports and resources are made available.
In today’s world, where news of natural disasters and acts of violence are capturing the headlines, it’s very likely that people are experiencing moments of sadness. However, if feelings of sadness persist for extended periods of time, it could be worthwhile to seek support or encourage someone you know to do so.
Signs and symptoms of depression
- Sad mood
- Preoccupation with failures or inadequacies and a loss of self-esteem
- Feelings of uselessness, hopelessness, excessive guilt
- Slowed thinking, forgetfulness, difficulty in concentrating and in making decisions
- Loss of interest in work, hobbies, people
- Changes in appetite or weight (eating too little or too much)
- Changes in sleep (sleeping too little or too much)
- Suicidal thoughts
We’ve found that one of the primary reasons people don’t seek help is because of the stigma associated with mental health conditions. Depression isn’t a sign of weakness or indication that something is wrong with a person. Just like a person who has a health challenge such as heart disease or high blood pressure, depression is a medical condition that can be treated, offering much-needed relief to those who offer suffer in silence.
If you were unable to receive a screening as part of National Depression Screening Day, you can always visit our HealthyMindsPhilly.com for access to free, online anonymous screening 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And, if you or someone you know may be experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Talk Line at 800-273-8255 (TALK). The City of Philadelphia also has a general crisis line for those in need — 215-685-6440.
Do not be afraid to acknowledge that you may be dealing with depression. The strongest people are the ones who can admit when they need help.