On Thursday, Oct. 8, Samaritan Counseling Center, Rape and Suicide Crisis of Southeast Texas and Mental Health America of Southeast Texas will join over 1,000 community organizations, colleges and military installations throughout the country to offer free, anonymous mental health screenings in an effort to educate members of the public on the symptoms of depression and point them to local resources where they can get help.  Mental health professionals will be available to speak with individuals regarding their personal situations at no cost and with no appointment necessary. 

Screening can play a key role in the early identification and treatment of depression.  According to a recent study released by the non-profit organization Screening for Mental Health, Inc., over half of participants who took a screening online between October and December of 2008 sought depression treatment in the three months following their initial screening.

As part of the program, local residents will have the opportunity to complete a brief, written questionnaire; pick up educational materials on depression, stress, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder; and learn how to help a friend or family member who may be at risk. Individuals will also have the option of talking to a health care professional about any personal concerns.

Screenings will be offered at Samaritan Counseling Center, 7980 Anchor Dr – Bldg. 500 from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Some facts about depression:

* Clinical depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting more than 19 million Americans each year.

* Depression causes people to lose pleasure in daily life, can complicate other medical conditions, and can even be serious enough to lead to suicide.

* Depression can occur to anyone, at any age, and to people of any race or ethnic group.  Depression is never a “normal” part of life, no matter your age, gender, or health situation.

* More than 80 percent of people with clinical depression can be successfully treated.  Unfortunately, fewer than half of those suffering from this illness seek treatment.  Many people resist treatment because they believe that depression isn’t serious, that they can treat it themselves, or that it is a personal weakness rather than a serious medical illness. With early recognition, intervention, and support, most individuals can lead productive lives. 

For more information on National Depression Screening Day, call Samaritan Counseling Center at 877-385-3347, or visit www.sccset.org.

National Depression Screening Day, held every October as part of Mental Illness Awareness Week, is a program of the nonprofit organization Screening for Mental Health, Inc.  Last year, nearly 300,000 people were screened nationally at in-person events.