SC Department of Mental Health News Release

For Immediate Release
October 4, 2002
Contact: John Hutto, Director of Communications
(803) 898-8584

Mental Illness Awareness Week
National Depression Screening Day

Columbia, SC - October 6-12, 2002, is Mental Illness Awareness Week across the nation. Selected mental health centers and private hospitals throughout South Carolina will offer free depression screening to the public October 10.

One in 20 Americans may experience depression at some point during their lives. The good news is that appropriate treatment can help over 80 percent of those who suffer from depression, but the bad news is that less than one-third seeks help, usually because of the stigma attached to mental illnesses.

The depression screening program is an attempt to educate the public about the signs and symptoms of this illness, which is one of the more common psychiatric disorders and also one of the most treatable.

Each year, the U.S. Congress marks the first week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week. Established by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), Mental Illness Awareness Week seeks to draw attention to mental illness and the many numbers of individuals and families it affects. It is estimated that each year nearly 50 million Americans will experience a mental disorder. During this week, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, consumers and advocates throughout the nation will offer public information and education programs on mental illness.

In South Carolina, it is believed that as many as 750,000 people -- one in five have a diagnosable mental illness.

For further information about National Depression Screening Day or the site nearest you, you may call your local mental health center. Or, you may go on-line at This internet site will enable you to pinpoint locations in South Carolina where you can get a free screening for depression.

If you would like more information about mental illnesses, please telephone the South Carolina Department of Mental Health at 1-800-763-1024. Someone will be happy to help you.

The South Carolina Department of Mental Health provides services through a network of 17 community mental health centers, five hospitals, and two nursing care centers.

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