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Getting a mental health screening

Oct 1, 2022, 07:00 AM

Every day, millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition. If you are not one of them, you probably have a loved one, friend or coworker that is affected. Shining a light on a topic that may be considered dark is key to ending any kind of negative stigma. Every year, during the first week of October, participants across the country do just that by raising awareness about mental illness, fighting discrimination and providing support through Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW).

Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) first began in the U.S. in 1990 by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to educate and increase awareness about mental illness. It takes place every year during the first full week of October. This year, it begins on October 2 and ends October 8. Within this week are a few related events and one that takes place just after the week ends.

  • Tuesday Oct. 4: National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding
  • Thursday Oct. 6: National Depression Screening Day
  • Monday Oct. 10: World Mental Health Day

Why get screened for depression?

Like screenings for other illnesses, depression screenings should be a regular part of healthcare. Whether for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or depression, health screenings provide a quick and easy way to spot the first signs of serious illness and can reach people who might not otherwise seek professional medical advice.

Major depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting 6.7% (more than 16 million) of American adults each year. Clinical depression is a serious medical illness that can lead to suicide.  

Take an online depression screening. MHA's screening tools are free, anonymous, and confidential.

How to get screened

Mental health services are covered by CareOregon. Screening for mental health conditions should take place in a primary care doctor’s office or, for youth, they can even take place in school. Per the NAMI, approximately 50% of lifetime mental health conditions begin by age 14 and 75% begin by age 24. At the same time, the average delay between when symptoms first appear and intervention is approximately 11 years. Mental health screenings allow for early identification and intervention and help bridge the gap.

Medicaid actually requires screening Medicaid-eligible children for mental health conditions under the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) mandate in federal law.

We've found that early identification and treatment leads to better outcomes. Early treatment may also lessen long-term disability and prevent years of suffering. Health care screenings are common in this country, and mental health screenings should be no exception.

Facts about mental health in America*:

  • 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
  • 1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year
  • 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
  • Mental illness affects:
    • 44% of LGB adults
    • 32% Mixed/Multiracial adults
    • 22% of White adults
    • 19% of American Indian or Alaska Native
    • 18% of Latinx adults
    • 17% of Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander adults
    • 17% of Black adults
    • 14% of Asian adults
  • Annual prevalence among U.S. adults, by condition:
    • Anxiety Disorders: 19.1% (estimated 48 million people)
    • Major Depressive Episode: 7.8% (19.4 million people)
    • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: 3.6% (estimated 9 million people)
    • Bipolar Disorder: 2.8% (estimated 7 million people)
    • Borderline Personality Disorder: 1.4% (estimated 3.5 million people)
    • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: 1.2% (estimated 3 million people)
    • Schizophrenia: <1% (estimated 1.5 million people)


*stats courtesy of NAMI