Free, Confidential Depression Screenings Offered October 7

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Valerie Avery
October 1, 2010 (432) 816-9257

BIG SPRING – Big Spring State Hospital and West Texas Centers will offer free and confidential depression screenings, Thursday, October 7, on National Depression Screening Day.

Big Spring State Hospital and West Texas Centers began offering the screenings in 2000 to the Howard County community. Scenic Mountain Medical Center in 2007 began their partnership with the two agencies to provide screenings in Scenic Mountain Medical Center.

The screenings will be held on the fourth floor of SMMC, 1601 W. 11th Place, Big Spring, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Screenings are free and are open to people of any age, said Kathy Salazar, LCSW, Big Spring State Hospital Director of Social Services. Upon arrival, attendees are provided with a short questionnaire and will visit with a mental health professional to review the answers.

“These are questions provided by the National Depression Screening Day organization,” Salazar said. “The answers to this set of questions give us good insight and a good starting-off point for dialogue.”

The clinicians and attendees review the answers together, which gives the mental health experts a good idea if follow-up care for depression is necessary or if the person is only experiencing a sad period in his or her life.

“The screening tool has really been very helpful in determining whether the attendees need to be seen for follow-up care either as an outpatient or an inpatient,” said Shelley Smith, LMSW, West Texas Centers CEO. “Some years, we have seen people in our depression screenings who had lived with depression for years and needed professional help for their illness.”

Mental health professionals do not diagnose depression but suggest avenues participants can pursue based on their answers to the questionnaire and the ensuing interview, she said.

Depression affects more than 15 million Americans each year, according to the National Mental Health Association. Clinical depression is treatable through a variety of methods, including medications and psychotherapy or a combination of the two.

Other people may be living with periods of sadness or have experienced a difficult time and are feeling that they will never be happy again.

“Many of the people we see every year are those who are just not sure if they are clinically depressed or if they just need to work through a particular issue that may be experiencing,” Salazar said.

Each attendee is given educational literature and the names and phone numbers of community resources.

Screenings are free and confidential, Smith said. They are offered at more than 1,500 locations across the United States.

West Texas Centers also operates a 24-hour mental health crisis hotline, 1-800-375-4357 .

The line is available for those who are in a crisis or need mental health services, Smith said.

For more information on National Depression Screening Day, call Valerie Avery at (432) 816-9257.

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Last updated January 01, 2011