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Why Mental Health Screenings Are Important

Written byDesiree Smith

As the general public becomes more aware of the topic of mental illnesses, the need for accessible mental health resources becomes even more important. Mental health screenings are a type of resource that enables early detection, intervention, and support for those navigating mental health challenges.

Similar to routine check-ups that help prevent physical illnesses, mental health screenings help identify potential concerns before they become more complex issues. It’s essential to understand both the importance of mental health screenings and the types of screenings available. From anxiety and depression to eating disorders and substance abuse, numerous conditions can be assessed with mental health screenings. There are also specialized screenings for different age groups. These are designed to address challenges specific to various stages of life.

What Are Mental Health Screenings? Why Are They Important?

Mental health screenings are one of the first steps to getting a diagnosis. They help determine if the symptoms you’re experiencing are due to an underlying mental health condition and whether further testing or support is needed.

Some mental health screenings look for general signs of poor mental health, while others look for symptoms of specific mental health disorders. However, it’s important to note that the results you receive are not an official diagnosis. Your results can point you toward experts who can work with you further to provide an official diagnosis. Beyond the initial diagnosis, mental health screenings can be used to gauge the effectiveness of ongoing treatment.

You should take a mental health screening any time you start experiencing significant symptoms that could have a deeper cause. Symptoms may include:

  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Withdrawal from people or activities you typically enjoy
  • Constant fatigue
  • Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness
  • Excessive smoking, drinking, or drug use
  • Regular feelings of confusion, worry, anger, or fear
  • Severe mood swings
  • Repetitive thoughts and memories
  • Hearing voices
  • Thoughts about death, suicide, or self-harm

If you’re a parent and notice that your child is exhibiting concerning symptoms, there are mental health screenings tailored to younger individuals. Signs of mental disorders in children include:

  • Frequent tantrums and behavior problems
  • Regular stomach aches and headaches without a known cause
  • Trouble in school
  • Excessively repeating actions
  • Conversations about fears, worries, death, or suicide

Mental health screenings can be self-reported questionnaires or clinical interviews with a medical provider. With either method, you’ll be asked questions about your feelings, mood, sleep patterns, appetite, and other aspects of your life. For the screening to produce accurate results, your answers should be honest and complete.

Why are mental health screenings so important? Approximately half of mental health conditions emerge by age 14 — and 75 percent by age 24. Taking a screening sooner rather than later could prevent years of suffering and improve your quality of life. Catching mental health conditions enables treatment before symptoms escalate and provides answers that you might otherwise spend years searching for.

Types of Mental Health Screenings

Depending on the symptoms you're experiencing and the answers you’re looking for, there are several types of mental health screenings you can take. You might also take multiple types throughout your mental health journey, as one screening can point you toward another for more answers. As you evaluate whether or not a mental health screening is the best step for you, here are a few types to consider:

1). General Wellness Screenings

General wellness screenings evaluate your overall well-being. They are an excellent first step in evaluating your symptoms and can point you in the right direction. These screenings provide a broad overview of your mental state, emotional health, and any potential risk factors for mental health conditions. They cover a broad spectrum of mental health conditions and include questions about mood, behavior, thoughts, and feelings. Results will provide an overview of your well-being but will not go deeply into specific conditions.

2). Depression Screenings

As the name suggests, depression screenings determine if the symptoms you’re experiencing are associated with depression. They assess persistent sadness, loss of interest, changes in sleep or appetite, and suicidal thoughts. Your results will consider the severity of your symptoms before helping determine the need for additional evaluation or treatment.

3). Anxiety Screenings

If you’re experiencing excessive worry or fear that affects your daily life, you may want to participate in an anxiety screening. This type of screening targets symptoms related to various anxiety disorders, including worry, panic attacks, phobias, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and social anxiety. The questionnaires are used to assess the intensity and impact of symptoms.

4). PTSD Screenings

PTSD screenings assess symptoms commonly associated with post-traumatic stress disorder, including flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance, avoidance behaviors, and negative changes in mood. The goal of a PTSD screening is to identify individuals who have experienced trauma and are showing signs of PTSD. Results can assist in providing support or a referral to a mental health specialist.

5). Substance Use Disorder Screenings

Substance use disorder screenings help determine if an individual is abusing substances. They identify any problematic or addictive behaviors through questionnaires or interviews. Results can help in initiating interventions or treatment for substance-related issues.

6). Eating Disorder Screenings

Eating disorder screenings focus on conditions such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. Questions in the screening evaluate body image, eating habits, and attitudes toward food. They help identify those who are at risk and guide them toward appropriate support and treatment.

7). Child and Adolescent Mental Health Screenings

In some cases, children and adolescents may benefit from mental health screenings. There are several screenings available that are tailored to younger individuals who may be suffering from various mental health conditions. They evaluate issues such as ADHD, behavior problems, mood disorders, and developmental concerns. The goal of screenings for younger individuals is to detect early signs of mental health problems and enable interventions, counseling, or treatment before symptoms progress.

Mental health screenings are valuable as you seek answers and symptom relief, but they can’t provide a final or definitive answer. For an official diagnosis and treatment plan, you’ll need to reach out to a mental health specialist. They’ll be able to discuss your screening results and create a treatment plan that works for you. At iTrust, we’re dedicated to understanding our clients’ needs in order to provide comprehensive and compassionate care. Whether you’re just starting your journey to mental health or have been battling with a condition for years, our team is here to help.

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