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October is National Depression Awareness Month

The Community Health Center, Inc. has emerged as a national leader in incorporating depression screenings into primary medical care visits, with the rate of screenings in prenatal, adolescent, and adult patients all raising significantly in the past several years. CHC’s percentage of depression screenings is well above the national average for every demographic mentioned above, and we will continue to improve our standard of care until every single one of our patients is screened.

October is National Depression Awareness Month, but every day at CHC, Inc. is an opportunity to improve the overall health of our patients. We instituted universal depression screening in 2009, merging behavioral health components – in particular depression screenings – into primary care visits at our facilities. At that point in time, few of our patients were screened for depression and other behavioral conditions. This issue also existed on the state and national levels, and we felt the time had come for depression screenings to be administered to our entire patient community. So far in 2012, less than three years later, 68.7% of prenatal patients, 41.1% of adolescent patients, and 61.27% of adult patients are screened for depression at the Community Health Center, Inc. In the very near future, we will be able to say that all of our patients are screened annually.

How do we define depression?

Mayo Clinic defines depression as “a medical illness that causes a persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest”. Though it is classified as a behavioral health condition, depression can also heavily impact your physical wellbeing if not treated properly. Additionally, “depression is a chronic illness that usually requires long-term treatment, like diabetes or blood pressure”. (Mayo Clinic)

Quick Facts

  • In 2010 suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. In a recent study in the American Journal of Public Health (Sept, 2012) it is now the leading cause of injury mortality in the US and has surpassed motor vehicle crashes.
  • 1 in 10 American adults report depression, and over 20 million people are believed to be battling depression in the United States. (CDC)
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has suggested that depression will be the planet’s leading cause of disability by the year 2020. (Murray & Lopez, 1997 in Arroll, et.al., 2005)

Stigma Attached?

A major obstacle for individuals battling depression is the unwanted stigma that often accompanies a behavioral illness. There are estimates suggesting that up to fifty percent of people who are struggling with depression never report symptoms. At the Community Health Center, Inc. we are dedicated to removing feelings of shame and embarrassment, and practicing universal depression screening is in line with that sentiment. Universal depression screening ensures that depression tests are administered to all patients as a measure of evaluating their behavioral health, and makes this practice standard instead of dependent upon the individual patient.

Helpful Links on Depression