Recognizing that depression is one of the most common mental health illnesses, but also the most treatable, BryanLGH Hospital in Lincoln, Neb. offers a variety of online screening tools focused on mental health to assist people in finding help and take the necessary steps toward recovery.
“We know that untreated depression can be very devastating to a person’s life, and can lead to suicidal thoughts and people taking actions that harm themselves,” BryanLGH Counseling and Program Development Manager David Miers, Phd, LIPC said. “Catching depression is the first step, followed then by getting into treatment, and I know the online screening tool we offer has helped people to do that.”
Originally BryanLGH offered depression screening as an in-person screening once a year in October as part of the National Depression Screening Day program, which is held during the first full week of the month on that Thursday. Noticing a need to reach more people, five years ago the program transitioned into an online screening on the hospital Web site offered year round to reach a wider range of people. Initially focusing only on depression, eventually the screening was expanded to include individual screenings for anxiety, bi-polar, depression in adolescents, and an alcohol screening.
Moving to an online screening has more than doubled participation each year with several hundred completing the 10 – 15 minute questionnaire. Still anonymous, once a person has completed one or more of the screenings, directions on what steps to take next and educational information are available.
“Although the in-person depression screening worked out really well and we were able to reach nearly 100 people each year, we noticed that some people wouldn’t show up, or they would be hesitant to come in even though it was anonymous,” Miers said. “With the online version, people can take the test anytime from the comfort of their own home, or a library, or anywhere they have access to a computer and the Internet and we’re able to reach an unlimited amount of people.”
As the form is a screening tool and not a diagnostic tool, reminds Miers, several options are presented at the end of the questionnaire based on the answers provided. It is tailored to include resources available at BryanLGH Hospital and directs people to contact the counseling center to meet with either a staff therapist or psychologist, but coming into the counseling center is not the only option. If a person calls the center they will speak with a nurse coordinator who will talk to them and point them in the right direction for treatment whether it be a family doctor or another resource within the community where they live. For many, the online tool is just what they need to move closer to recovery.
“There is a question on the form that asks if they intend to take further steps and a high percentage of those who test positive say they do plan to take further steps to help themselves,” Miers said. “We get calls from people who have taken the screening saying that it really helped them take the next step toward recovery and that is a really positive thing.”
To take the online mental health screening, visit www.bryanlgh.org and click on the Online Depression, Anxiety, and Alcohol Screening button on the bottom left side of the home page.