Mental health screenings could have big impact
Georgann E. O’Quinn, LPC, NCC, BCC
It is a natural part of life to experience stress, sadness, and overwhelming situations. But how do we know the difference between a passing episode and what might be signs of chronic mental distress? Knowing the difference could be lifesaving.
Mental health is a key part of our overall health. While people will participate in regular checkups for their physical health, they don’t always do the same for their mental health. Brief screenings are the quickest way to determine if someone should connect with a mental health professional. They are a “check-up from your neck up.”
World Mental Health Day is observed on October 10 this year, with the overall objective to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health and wellness.
To access free and anonymous mental health screenings online for yourself or on behalf of a loved one, visit www.HelpYourselfHelpOthers.org or www.mhascreening.org. These brief screenings are designed for the general public, and each one takes only a few minutes to complete. The test will result in a score that suggests whether or not you should seek further evaluation from a mental health professional. Screening tools are completely anonymous and confidential, followed by an immediate scored result that includes information, recommendations for next steps, and helpful resources. Additional screening tools are available specifically for military service members and their families, as well as information about suicide prevention and screenings for youth.
The websites www.HelpYourselfHelpOthers.org and www.mhascreening.org provide a range of other available screenings, which are listed below.
- Feeling sad, down, or empty: Depression Screen
- Constantly worried, nervous, stressed: Generalized Anxiety Screen
- Mood changes from very high to low: Bipolar Screen
- Worried about my drinking habits: Alcohol Use Screen
- Difficulty controlling my substance use: Substance Use Screen
- Afraid of weight gain, worried about eating habits: Disordered Eating Screen
- Worried about my gambling behavior: Brief Gambling Screen
- Concerned about unusual experiences or behaviors: Psychosis Screen
- Concerned about my teen’s mood: Brief Screen for Adolescent Depression
Completing a screening will help you determine if your recent thoughts or behaviors may be associated with a common, treatable mental health issue; however, they are not a substitute for a clinical evaluation or professional advice, and they cannot provide an actual diagnosis or treatment. Therefore, it is recommended that you contact a qualified mental health professional for more information and a complete evaluation.
Mental health screenings can also be useful for loved ones of individuals who may be at risk. While screenings are a start, mental health professionals emphasize the importance of being persistent when encouraging others to get the help they need. By offering to go with them to an appointment, you are being supportive, while also suggesting their mental health is important and can be improved.
To seek help in person, several local resources are available:
- Pee Dee Mental Health: (843) 317-4073. www.peedeementalhealth.org
- HopeHealth, Inc. (843) 667-9414. www.hope-health.org
- Circle Park Behavioral Health Services: (843) 665-9349. www.circlepark.com
- Private practice: Insured individuals can also contact their insurance company for a listing of mental health providers within in their network
If you’re thinking about suicide or are worried about someone else,
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They provide 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress (by phone or Chat Line), prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. [For Spanish: Nacional de Prevención del Suicidio 1-888-628-9454. For Deaf + Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889].
- Text the Crisis Text Line: Text HELP for 741741
- Dial 911
- Go immediately to the nearest hospital emergency room for an evaluation
- Contact SC Community Crisis Response and Intervention at (833)-364-2274 (833-DMH-CCRI) for a telephone or in person evaluation available 24/7
A valuable resource is The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) whose mission is to improve the quality of life for individuals who live with mental illnesses and their families by providing education, support, resources and advocacy. The local chapter, NAMI Pee Dee, offers the free 8-week course “Family-to-Family,” as well as a monthly “Family Support Group” for family, significant others, and friends of people living with mental health conditions. Contact: Lou Hanna at firstname.lastname@example.org
www.mhascreening.org [Mental Health America]
www.NAMI.org [National Alliance on Mental Illness]
Georgann E. O’Quinn, LPC, NCC, BCC is a licensed professional counselor, national certified counselor and board certified coach serving patients at Hope Health, Inc.