South Carolina Department of Mental Health
2414 Bull Street, Columbia, SC 29202
News Release


September 29, 2006
Contact:    John Hutto

Office of Public and Legislative Affairs
Phone: (803) 898-8581

Pager:  (803) 929-8668

Mental Illness Awareness Week
National Depression Screening Day

Columbia, SC – October 1-7, 2006, is Mental Illness Awareness Week across the nation.  Selected sites throughout South Carolina will offer free depression screening to the public October 5.

One in 20 Americans 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 illness.

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 on Mental Illness (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, clients 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 800,000 people – one in five – have a diagnosable mental illness.

For further information about National Depression Screening Day, or to find the site nearest you, call your local mental health center or visit the following Web site:  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 call the South Carolina Department of Mental Health toll free at 1 (800) 763-1024.  Someone will be happy to help you.

The South Carolina Department of Mental Health is an integrated system of care designed to meet the behavioral health needs of adults, children, and adolescents. It operates seventeen community mental health centers, Harris Psychiatric Hospital, Anderson, SC, the Columbia Behavioral Healthcare System, and three nursing homes, including two for veterans.