National Depression Screening Day began as an effort to reach individuals across the nation with important mental health education and connect them with support services. The National Health Care for the Homeless Council encourages all health centers to make an additional effort today, October 5, to increase depression screenings for patients aged 12 years and older, and to help raise public awareness of mental health issues and work to reduce stigma.
Research has shown there are linkages between depression and homelessness. Depression can lead to homelessness, and untreated or poorly managed depression may keep one in the state of homelessness. Therefore, it is important to not only screen patients for depression, but also to follow up positive screens with appropriate treatment and referrals.
According to UDS data an estimated 151,078 or 6% of patients receiving care at Health Care for the Homeless health centers had a diagnosis of depression and other mood disorders in 2016. This led to 601,793 visits, which averages to approximately four (4) visits per patient.
For health center grantees, the Bureau of Primary Health Care recommends that patients aged 12 years and older should be screened for depression using an age-appropriate standardized depression screening tool, and, if positive, a follow-up plan should be developed and documented on the date of the positive screen. Guidance from BPHC has identified the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-2) as an appropriate screener, and the use of the PHQ-9 as a follow-up to a positive depression screening (PHQ-2).
If your health center is interested in increasing your screenings around depression or improving the quality of care provided to individuals diagnosed with depression and other mood disorders, the Council can help: request free Technical Assistance.