To coordinate nationwide mental health screening programs, and ensure cooperation, professionalism, and accountability in mental illness screenings.
The first National Depression Screening Day was launched in 1991 with the support of several organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association and the National Mental Health Association. The success of that screening day led to the launch of Screening for Mental Health, Inc. (SMH), which developed other screening days for problems with alcohol and eating disorders.
National Depression Screening Day is held each year during Mental Illness Awareness Week in October to call attention to the illnesses of depression, manic-depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety; educate the public about their symptoms and effective treatments; offer individuals the opportunity to be screened for the disorders; and help those in need of treatment find treatment. SMH provides registered screening sites with step-by-step procedure manuals, publicity guides, educational materials, screening forms, videos, and posters.
The National Eating Disorders Screening Program, held during Eating Disorders Awareness Week in February, and National Alcohol Screening Day, held in April during Alcohol Awareness Month, follow the model of the depression screenings. The goals of both programs are to educate the public about the disorders and encourage people who may be suffering from them to seek assistance.
As part of its depression screening offerings for youth, SMH has added a new program that addresses teen suicide. The SOS (Signs of Suicide) Suicide Prevention Program provides school health professionals with educational materials that help teens understand the connection between suicide and undiagnosed, untreated mental illness — usually depression. The program encourages friends of troubled teens to acknowledge that their friend may have a problem, let the friend know they care, and tell a trusted adult about their concerns.
The SMH Web site provides information about the screening days, links to registration materials for sites interested in hosting screenings, and statistical findings from previous screenings. The site also provides information about SMH's telephone and online screening products for employers and healthcare organizations.
Screening for Mental Health programs are supported by grants and donations from the programs' sponsors and supporters and registration fees from participating screening sites.