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Establishing Safeguards for Mental Health

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The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that about 1 in 5 adults (43.8 million) in the United States experiences a mental health condition in a given year, and more than 44,000 die by suicide. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control explored suicide rates by occupation and found that construction workers had the 2nd highest risk for suicide (53.3 per 100,000).

As a member of the construction profession, you understand better than anyone the physical and mental demands of the work. In addition to long hours and stress caused by an unpredictable work schedule, construction workers face a higher rate for injury and physical pain than many other professions. Research has shown that mental distress is strongly associated with physical pain and injuries. Taking time for your health is an important commitment; one that can be easily put off. But leaving health issues untreated only makes them fester. When talking about your health, it’s important to consider both the physical and mental components of your overall wellbeing. You’ve been trained since childhood to go to the doctor when you’re sick or hurt, but when the problem is depression, anxiety, or another mental health condition, the protocol isn’t always so clear cut. How do you know if it’s serious enough to warrant a trip to see a counselor?

Recently the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended depression screening for all adults age 18 and older. They found convincing evidence that when combined with effective treatment and follow-up, screening improves the accurate identification of adult patients with depression. Mental health screenings are a quick, easy, and anonymous way to gather information about your own mental health. After answering some brief questions, you are provided with an educational assessment designed to let you know if the symptoms you have been experiencing are consistent with a mental health condition. You will also receive recommendations for next steps, and information linking you to quality, treatment resources in your local community.

Early intervention can mitigate the potential results of mental illness including serious impairment, unemployment, and suicide. To prevent mental illness, it is necessary to increase protective factors and awareness. The most effective strategies emphasize public education, screen for mental health problems, and information on appropriate, local treatment options. While employers often use health promotion to encourage physical health changes, employers can also use health promotion to discuss mental health issues and encourage a culture of employee engagement and connectedness as well.

As part of a larger public health campaign for mental health education and awareness, Screening for Mental Health hosts a National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) campaign each October. Held on the Thursday of Mental Illness Awareness Week (October 5th, 2017), NDSD is dedicated to educating individuals about the signs and symptoms of common mood and anxiety disorders like depression, generalized anxiety, bipolar disorder, and PTSD, and connecting those in need with treatment. Organizations across the nation take part by hosting awareness and screening events, and by raising awareness about the online screening site, www.HelpYourselfHelpOthers.org, which is free for the public.

While the majority of sites choose to host their event on National Depression Screening Day, others incorporate their awareness day activities into pre existing events allowing them to streamline their promotional efforts. If you’re interested in learning more about NDSD or the work we do at Screening for Mental Health, visit www.mentalhealthscreening.org or call us at 781-239-0071.


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