Today marks 25 years of National Depression Screening Day in the United States with mental health advocates are raising awareness of mental health issues.
Instead of suffering alone in their depression, people such as Todd Hopkins are reaching out to connect with others suffering from the same illness.
Todd battled alone with the illness for 18 months before seeking help. He is now an advocate for the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health. The group set up at LOVE Park for the day as part of National Depression Screening Day.
“Unfortunately, so many people don’t reach out for help because they are embarrassed, ” commissioner of the Department of Behavioral Health Arthur Evans said, “They are ashamed, and the reality is that people shouldn’t be any more ashamed than they would if they had diabetes or a heart attack or cancer.”
The stigma towards mental illness is something that advocates for mental health have been fighting for years. This stigma is what encouraged the “check up from the neck up” movement. Not all pain and illness is physical. However, this does not make it any less serious.
National Depression Screening Day provides people an opportunity to be screened for depression, as well as receive information and references if they need them.
For many such as Beverly Mays, the issue hits close to home. Her son’s depression started when he was just ten years old. After experiencing trouble in school and being bullied, Mays’ son called her, saying that he was threatening to kill himself. Her son is better now, but it remains difficult for Mays.
“It’s hard,” she said, “because you never know when and you always gotta watch out for what’s going on.”
Resources are available online for anyone suffering from mental illness, or anyone who knows someone suffering from mental illness. Advocates urge individuals to reach out, get the help they need and refuse to suffer alone in silence.
Depression is the most common mental disorder for adults in the United States. Up to 80% of people diagnosed with depression begin to feel better after just 4 to 6 weeks of treatment.