NEWARK – The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance estimates that about 14.8 million American adults are affected by a major depressive disorder every year.
Although some recognize their symptoms and get help, many don’t understand what’s happening to them or don’t know where to turn.
Penny Sitler, executive director of Mental Health America of Licking County, is hoping local people wondering whether they are experiencing symptoms of depression will be able to get some answers Oct. 9 during National Depression Screening Day.
“Depression is a serious mental illness, and there are a lot of undiagnosed cases out there,” she said. “It’s comforting for people to know there is a name for what they are feeling.”
Although everyone has times when they feel sad or anxious, those with clinical depression experience those feelings for longer than two weeks, Sitler said.
During National Depression Screening Day, MHA will have questionnaires available that ask participants about the symptoms they are experiencing.
Those who come to the MHA office, 65 Messimer Drive, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Oct. 9 will have the option to take the screening online or on paper. Staff members will be available to talk to anyone who needs guidance.
For those who aren’t able to come to the office that day, MHA has a depression assessment on its website, mhalc.org, which can be used at any time.
The overall goal of National Depression Screening Day is to raise awareness and get people connected with treatment, Sitler said.
Up to 80 percent of people treated for depression generally show an improvement in their symptoms within four to six weeks of beginning medication, psychotherapy, attending support groups or a combination of those treatments, according to The National Institute of Heath.
Although Mental Health America doesn’t provide treatment at its office, it can connect people with resources so they can get help, she said.
“There is still a stigma attached to depression,” Sitler said. “People are embarrassed and feel like they shouldn’t talk about it and that’s what we want to break down.”
Depression is an illness, just like cancer, diabetes or heart disease, and should be viewed that way, she said.
“We want to educate the public it’s treatable,” she said. “There is no reason for anyone to stay where they are, (if they are having symptoms).”
Symptoms of depression
• Changes in sleep
• Changes in appetite
• Poor concentration
• Loss of energy
• Lack of interest
• Low self-esteem
• Hopelessness or guilt
• Movement changes
Source: The National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Depression Screening Day is Oct. 9. People hoping to be screened can stop by the Mental Health America Office, 65 Messimer Drive, Newark, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 740-522-1341.
To take an online mental health screening, go towww.mentalhealthamerica.net/mental-health-screening-tools.
If you’re struggling with a mental illness or substance abuse disorder, call the 211 crisis hotline for help and treatment options. Dial 211, 800-544-1601 or, in Licking County only, 740-345-HELP
The 211 crisis hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Advocate to help host info session on Mental Health First Aid
Editor’s note: This is the final story in a series of articles The Advocate has run during Recovery Month, spreading the message and sharing the stories of those who fought — or are fighting —to recover.
To continue to help educate the community about mental illness and recovery, The Advocate is collaborating with Mental Health and Recovery for Licking and Knox Counties and Mental Health America of Licking County to host a short information session about a new Mental Health First Aid program.
The free daylong training is open to individuals, local businesses and organizations who want to better understand how to recognize and assist people experiencing symptoms of mental illnesses. The Oct. 29 information session — from 7 to 8 p.m. — will provide a sampling of the full training.
The event will be conducted in Meeting Room A at the main branch of the Licking County Library, 101 W. Main St., Newark. It’s free, and refreshments will be served.
For more information on what Mental Health First Aid training is all about, check out our recent article at: ohne.ws/1rGrrhm.
For more information on the event, call Kay Spergel at 740-522-1234 or Penny Sitler at 740-522-1341.
This article appeared in the Newark Advocate on September 30, 2014