Stunning New Data Shows Serious Depression Afflicts Many Youth, Adults

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Mental Health America (MHA) shares staggering new numbers today related to depression in America, drawn from one of the most ambitious mental health screening programs ever launched. The results of these screens illuminate the current depression epidemic in America and serve as a wake-up call to the country.

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This officially may be Mental Illness Awareness Week, but for us and for so many Americans, every day is Mental Health Day. We need to address mental illness in this country Before Stage 4.

As part of Mental Illness Awareness Week, Mental Health America (MHA) is sharing some staggering new numbers today related to depression in America, drawn from one of the most ambitious mental health screening programs ever launched. The depression screen is one of 9 screens available within MHA’s online Screening Program, which began in 2014 and has been used by 1.7 million people. This Thursday also marks National Depression Screening Day.

MHA will soon hit the notable milestone of 1 million depression screens completed. The results of these screens illuminate the current depression epidemic in America and serve as a wake-up call to the country:

  • Almost 1,400 people screen for depression every day;
  • 66% of screeners are under 25; 32% are under 18;
  • 59% are found to have serious depression;
  • The youngest screeners have the highest scores compared to any other age group—37% of 11-17 year olds score in the range for severe depression;
  • 32% of all screeners report they have significant thoughts of suicide or self-harm; and
  • Among screeners who self-identify as youth and LGBT, 41% score for severe depression.

“The sheer volume of individuals seeking mental health screening and supports is astonishing,” said Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO, MHA. “But when you couple this volume with these facts – that the depression screening tool is the most common screening tool they use; that most depression screeners are young; that two in every five depression screeners have severe depression; and that the majority of people coming to our screening program have never been diagnosed with a mental health condition—this is a national wake-up call. We must demand better mental health services—practitioners, employers, and educators need to offer mental health screening to all children and adults and policy makers must pass meaningful mental health reform legislation that emphasizes earlier detection and integrated services for recovery.”

MHA also plans to launch a new “Screening-to-Supports” initiative—S2S—over the next year, which will include informational and educational resources; referrals to services and supports; do-it-yourself tools to help people monitor their mental health; and engagement with others who are experiencing similar conditions.

“S2S will use digital and other resources to help people in need onto pathways to recovery,” Gionfriddo concluded. “The reason is simple – because this is what 1.7 million screeners have asked from us. They want help, and we want to respond. This officially may be Mental Illness Awareness Week, but for us and for so many Americans, every day is Mental Health Day. We need to address mental illness in this country Before Stage 4.”

MHA’s screening program (http://www.mhascreening.org) includes anonymous, scientifically-based screens for depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcohol and substance use, early psychosis, a youth and parent screen, and a work health survey. After completing their screening, individuals receive immediate results, education, resources and linkage to MHA affiliates. Along with the results of their screens, individuals provide MHA with valuable demographic and survey responses that allow us to further support our mental health policy and education efforts.

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Erin Wallace
Mental Health America
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