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Many Military Installations Worldwide Participate in National Depression Screening Day
Date:10/6/2008

On October 10th, military personnel and their family members can take anonymous online, telephone or in-person self-assessments

BOSTON, Oct. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Military life can present challenges to Service members and their families that are unique and difficult. Some are manageable, some are not. In some instances matters get worse and one problem can trigger other more serious issues. At such times it is wise to check things out to see what is really happening.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081006/DC37122 )

To help those who may be struggling, military installations worldwide will offer free, anonymous mental health self-assessments on October 10th, in recognition of National Depression Screening Day(R). In addition to the in-person assessments, Service members and their families can also gauge their mental well-being by visiting http://www.MilitaryMentalHealth.org or calling 877-877-3647. The online and telephone self-assessments - part of the Department of Defense funded Mental Health Self-Assessment Program(R) (MHSAP) - are available year-round and contain a series of questions that, when linked together, help create a picture of how an individual is feeling and whether they could benefit from talking to a health professional.

"It is important for military families to understand that self-care is an integral component of resiliency, and that taking stock of our emotions and seeking help are acts of courage, that ultimately lead to greater happiness," said CAPT Mark Paris, Ph.D., Deputy Director for Psychological Health & Strategic Operations in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Force Health Protection & Readiness). "Depression, PTSD and anxiety do not discriminate. They affect individuals of any age, race, religion, or income. Fortunately, these conditions are treatable and most people experience relief by seeking help," said Paris.

Although many Service members are beginning to come forward and talk about their struggles, stigma is still an issue when it comes to seeking help. Command Sergeant Major Samuel M. Rhodes, Sr. from Fort Benning, Georgia, speaks to soldiers about his experience with depression and PTSD in order to encourage others who may be suffering to seek help. "It's not something you want to advertise. You know, I'm advertising it because I want to help other soldiers," said Rhodes.

The in-person, online and telephone self-assessments are anonymous and no personal information is collected. The program is a confidential way for individuals to identify their own symptoms and access assistance before a problem becomes serious. According to an evaluation study of the online self-assessments, the program does increase help-seeking. Over 70% of those who participated in the study said they would be likely to seek further information about a specific mental health or alcohol use concern as a result of using the online self-assessment.

About the Mental Health Self-Assessment Program (MHSAP)

MHSAP is offered to more than 1.5 million military families affected by deployment in all branches, including the National Guard and Reserve. It is designed to help families and Service personnel identify their own symptoms and access assistance before a problem becomes serious. The tests available address depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder and alcohol use. After an individual completes a self-assessment, s/he is provided with referral information including services provided through the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs. Program components include National Depression Screening Day, National Alcohol Screening Day, Family Resiliency Kits and the educational DVD, A Different Kind of Courage. Part of DoD's continuum of care, MHSAP is fully funded by Force Health Protection and Readiness, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Health Affairs.

SIDE BAR: Along with military installations, more than 1,000 community organizations, primary care providers and colleges throughout the nation will offer free, anonymous mental health screenings on October 10th. For more information about the National Depression Screening Day community and college programs, visit http://www.MentalHealthScreening.org.


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SOURCE Screening for Mental Health
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