National Depression Screening Day: NMHA Provides Education and Support to Hurricane Victims and Responders


Heather Cobb at 703-797-2588, or by email.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (October 5, 2005) — National Depression Screening Day, an annual observance to educate the public on mental health issues and help individuals identify symptoms of depression and other mental health problems is Thursday. The National Mental Health Association and its 340 affiliates nationwide are seizing this opportunity to educate victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, responders and the American public about the mental health impact of disasters and how individuals can best manage.

"Although all emotional responses are normal, persistent feelings of despair, fear or anger may be signs of depression or another mental health problem," says Michael Faenza, President and CEO of the NMHA. "Depression Screening Day offers us a unique opportunity for NMHA and its affiliates to reach even more people in their communities through voluntary, confidential and free screenings. With the right resources and information, we can help prevent mental health problems in individuals impacted by these disasters so they can focus on rebuilding their lives."

Marked by persistent sadness, sleep and appetite changes, restlessness, irritability, physical complaints, fatigue, feelings of guilt, hopelessness and even thoughts of suicide, 19 million Americans experience depression each year. And, despite an 80 percent success rate, only half of those who could benefit for help, including counseling and medical treatment, receive any.

"People facing devastation – lost homes, loved ones, sense of community — do not need to soldier through the symptoms of depression or any mental health problem alone," said Faenza. "Help is available. The trained clinicians conducting screenings in each community can put the right information into the hands of people who needed it, as well as direct them to help they may require."

NMHA has developed several new Coping With Disaster resources that hundreds of mental health associations across the nation will share with their community members on National Depression Screening Day. Resources available at NMHA include:

Depression: What You Need to Know

Surviving Sudden Loss

Dealing with Stress

Helping Children Cope

Coping Strategies for Staff and Volunteers

Coping with Evacuation

Blueprint for Responding to Public Mental Health Needs in Times of Crisis

For additional information on depression, how to cope with disasters or about NMHA´s ongoing Hurricanes Katrina and Rita response efforts, visit NMHA‘s website. Individuals can also call NMHA´s Resource Center at (800) 969-NMHA (6642) for information and referrals to help. To locate a screening site, visit SMH (Screening For Mental Health, Inc.).

The National Mental Health Association is the country’s oldest and largest nonprofit organization addressing all aspects of mental health and mental illness. With more than 340 affiliates nationwide, NMHA works to improve the mental health of all Americans through advocacy, education, research, and service. For more information call (800) 969-NMHA (6642) or visit NMHA‘s website.


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