It’s October and all of a sudden, the months seem to speed up in a race towards the end of the year. Where I am in the northern hemisphere, days start to get shorter and there’s a chill in the air. I hear around me people mutter things like “(sigh) yeah I think we’ll be with the in-laws for the holidays this year” and “Where did the year go?” Stressors seem to build as autumn rounds the corner. This is also the time of year when the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)) begin to show themselves. SAD is a type of depression that affects millions of Americans, often during the fall and winter months.
More than 1 in 6 American adults have a diagnosis of depression making it one of the most common mental health challenges in the U.S. Yet for 80% of people with depression, the median delay in treatment is 7 years. 7 YEARS! Imagine if you broke your arm and it took you 7 years to see a doctor about it. Our public health system would be in an uproar. Protests, conferences, and funding would converge to address this unthinkable breakdown in the medical system. This is not just an issue for Americans, the World Health Organization lists depression as the leading cause of disability around the world. For my economists out there, depression alone costs the U.S. $210.5 billion every year.
So how do we shorten the road to recovery? We can support and promote early detection. Outcomes for recovery improve the sooner mental health signs and symptoms are noticed. In honor of early detection; October is National Depression and Mental Health Screening month. There are two things you can do to support early awareness. First, you can enroll in a Mental Health First Aid certification course to recognize the early signs and symptoms of depression. Second, you can take and share a mental health screening test. Now, more than ever, we need to raise awareness about early screening.