The Mental Health Association of Greater Knoxville will conduct free mental health screenings on Oct. 10 at various locations throughout the Knoxville area.
The screenings will test for depression, manic depression, generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. The Mental Health Association is offering the screenings in order to help residents figure out what may be wrong and where they should go for help.
"One in five East Tennesseans are affected by these disorders," Stacy Hicks, the screening day's program coordinator, said. "Our goal is to get as many people as we can screened so they can be treated."
The screening consists of a short question and answer session. The process is anonymous and takes approximately 10 minutes.
Hicks said she hopes the screening day will raise awareness of mental disorders and combat the stigma that is associated with them.
Depression is a common mental illness that affects 17 million to 20 million Americans annually. Symptoms include feelings of sadness and hopelessness, loss of pleasure in usual activities and thoughts of death or suicide. These symptoms are also characteristic of manic depression, but are accompanied by mood swings.
Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive worry over everyday events. This disorder is hard to spot and is not as dramatic as its cousin, post-traumatic stress disorder, that occurs in the aftermath of a trauma, Hicks said.
After the screenings, if someone displays symptoms of any of the above disorders, he or she will be referred to a mental health facility where he or she can receive a full evaluation and, if necessary, treatment.
"At that point, we will make a referral to a mental health facility," Hicks said. "UT students will be referred to the UT clinic or counseling center."
According to the Screening for Mental Health Web site at www.mentalhealth.org, the screening program is effective in motivating those who screen positive for the illness to seek treatment. Recent data indicates that as many as 65 percent of those referred for a full evaluation follow through on the recommendation.
There will be 12 different screening sites in seven East Tennessee counties including Knox and Blount counties. For more information and to find the nearest screening location, go to www.mentalhealth.org.