Several years ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report predicting that depression would become the world’s leading cause of disability by the year 2020. A September 2012 study by the American Journal of Public Health noted that depression is now the number one cause of injury mortality in the United States. Just two years prior, depression was ranked 10th on this same list, but it has now surpassed car accidents for the dreaded top spot.
Statistics such as these illustrate the severity of depression and how prevalent it has become both globally and domestically. October is National Depression Awareness Month in the United States, and we at the Community Health Center, Inc. are continually doing our part to help people battle this serious behavioral illness.
One of the most successful strategies that CHC has instituted in regards to depression prevention and awareness has been universal depression screening. Enacted in 2009, universal depression screening sees virtually every patient who enters CHC for a primary care visit given a basic behavioral health exam during their appointment. The concept of merging behavioral health components into medical care visits has proven very effective, with the number of patients being screened rising significantly over the last several years. In 2009, just 21.5% of prenatal patients, 1.12% of adolescent patients, and 6.61% of adult patients were screened for depression during their visits to CHC sites. Today, those numbers are now at 68.7%, 41.1%, and 61.27% respectively, and are climbing exponentially.
An equally important aspect of CHC’s implementation of universal depression screening has been the comfort level that this strategy affords our patients. There has long been a stigma attached to behavioral illness and making depression screening a standard for all patients helps appease such sentiments. The goal is for patients to have the peace of mind that short behavioral health examinations are commonplace for every person who walks into a primary care visit and not exclusive to certain individuals. There are estimates that over 50% of the people struggling with depression in the United States do not report their conditions, and that is a statistic we can definitely make a dent in. Universal depression screening helps reduce negative connotations attached to depression and other behavioral illnesses daily at CHC, and is a primary part of our approach to depression prevention, treatment, and awareness.
Today, October 11th, is National Depression Screening Day. Fortunately for our patients at CHC, these individuals are now receiving screenings annually during primary care visits. Most Americans, however, are not so lucky. Seeing as depression is only becoming more prevalent than ever before in our country, days like today only grow in importance every year. I urge you to spread the word about depression awareness, and if you or someone you love or care about begins to experience depression-related symptoms, support one another and reach out for help.
For more information on depression, take a look at our patient resource at www.chc1.com under our Model of Care.