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Beyond the Blues 2011

Have you stopped feeling like yourself lately? Or maybe you're worried about someone you care about? Maybe you feel sad, empty and hopeless but don't know why you can't shake off the feelings. Or you've been feeling anxious, panicked or distressed by troubling thoughts and behaviours, and it's affecting your daily life. Or, you're experiencing changes in sleep or appetite, decreased energy, and difficulty concentrating or enjoying activities you used to take pleasure in?

You may have clinical depression or an anxiety disorder — real conditions that touch at least one in every 5 people. The good news is they are treatable. There is help and hope.

There are as many treatment and community support options for mood and anxiety disorders as there are faces of them. Beyond the Blues is an opportunity to learn more about these treatable conditions, complete a brief questionnaire, speak one-on-one with a clinician, and find out about the range of community resources available to help. Sites also have information on alcohol and drug use problems, and seasonal or postpartum depression.

What actually happens at an education and screening site?

First, and most importantly, all screenings are completely free and totally anonymous. You do not have to sign your name anywhere and volunteers and clinicians involved in the event must sign an agreement respecting the confidentiality and anonymity of all participants. The screening is an opportunity to learn more about mood and anxiety disorders, complete a brief screening questionnaire (optional), and speak one-on-one with a clinician. Some sites also offer screens to check your drinking patterns.

When you arrive at the screening, you will be offered the opportunity to complete a brief written screening questionnaire. You do not have to complete this questionnaire if you don’t want to; there are even questionnaires you can fill out on behalf of a loved one you’re concerned about. If you do choose to complete the questionnaire, you will have a private space to complete it before you hand it in for scoring. While waiting to be called for an individual interview, sites will offer the opportunity to watch an educational video, listen to a presentation, speak to volunteers and others who know what you're going through, and/or pick up some informative brochures. Some sites provide this education component only without the screening. Many sites also offer refreshments.

When a your number is called, volunteers will direct you to a private area where you can meet with a clinician for about 10 minutes to discuss the results of your test and any symptoms you may be experiencing. Upon leaving the interview, you will be provided with a list of resources in the community that you can access for more information about depression, anxiety disorder or questions about treatment options. You will be supported and empowered to talk to your family doctor first, particularly if there is a likelihood of moderate to severe symptoms of depression. After the interview, you are free to return to the main room with educational materials and ask questions of the volunteers or fill out a brief and anonymous evaluation of the event before you leave. What’s more, you may end up having a conversation with other people who have come out, like you, to learn more about mood and anxiety disorders and the reality of recovery.


History of Depression Anxiety Education and Screening and Day

Depression Anxiety Educationand Screening Day (DAESD) is held annually in October during the first Thursday of Mental Illness Awareness Week; 2012 will be the 18th season of the program in BC.

The event is a high-profile awareness campaign that seeks to educate the public about the types and symptoms of depression, anxiety disorders and related conditions; the impact on individuals, families, workplaces and communities and the ability to be screened for the illness similar to other physical conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes. Most importantly, the event highlights successes with recovery and the availability of various treatment options as well as community resources and supports. The intent is to educate, not diagnose.

At a screening site, people are invited to come and learn more about the symptoms and treatment options available for mood and anxiety disorders. A hands-on way to achieve this education goal is for participants to fill out a short screening test known as the PHQ-9® tool (for major depression), the MINI® tool (for anxiety disorders), or any number of other specialty questionnaires for other conditions such as postpartum depression, mania (bipolar disorder), or for special populations like seniors, youth and ethnocultural groups. Risky-drinking screenings are also available at most sites.

After completing the short quiz that fits best, attendees then meet briefly with a mental health professional to discuss the results of the form. Print, video and seminar resources are also available for participants. Some sites provide this education component only without the screening.

In the US and the rest of Canada, the event is known as National Depression Screening Day or NDSD. NDSD is a registered service mark of a non-profit society in the United States called Screening for Mental Health. The organization has been coordinating efforts in the US since 1990 and in Canada since 1995. NDSD is by far the most popular campaign but Screening for Mental Health Inc. also organizes screening days for alcoholism and eating disorders. More than half a million people have been screened over the past decade, with more than 200,000 having sought professional help as a direct result of a screening.


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