Free Depression Screening Offered at WYFS on Thursday

The agency is co-sponsoring Westborough's involvement in National Depression Screening Day.

Last year, about 10 to 20 Westborough community members received a free confidential screening for depression,  bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorder, at Westborough Youth and Family Services, on National Depression Screening Day, counselor Eileen Reich says.

But while that figure was higher than in 2011, "historically, rates of depression correspond with the economy," Reich says.

And the screening is "a brief assessment, and not a substitute for a full mental health evaluation," she notes.

Thursday, Westborough Youth and Family Services will offer the screenings again, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in its second-floor office at the Forbes Municipal Building.

The agency and the Assabet Valley Pastoral Counseling Center are co-sponsoring Westborough's involvement in National Depression Screening Day.

The program is open to community members of all ages.

National Depression Screening Day has led to more than 500,000 screenings annually since 1991, according to Screening for Mental Health Inc.

Reich says individuals will complete a two-sided screening form when they arrive, and hand it to a counselor, who will score it. They then will meet privately.

"We'll talk for 20 minutes about whether their symptoms are consistent with one of the four mental health disorders that we are screening for," which are Depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety disorder, Reich says.

After the screening, the counselor will "hand them information about where they can follow up if they are needing to and wanting to follow up," she explains.

"Nothing happens after that. They can either go about their business and either follow up as recommended or not," Reich says.

The counselor will base their recommendation on the screening tool, as well as the interview, during which they will "probably want to know from (the indiviudal) whether they believe their symptoms are due to that stressor," she says.

"There's a definition for clinical depression and it's very specific. But you might come in on any given day and feel sad, and you wouldn't meet that definition," Reich says.

Westborough Youth and Family Services also will have handouts available, on topics like "Getting Through Tough Economic Times" and "Suicide Awareness," she says.

The agency offers counseling for residents "who are in need of services and may have no health insurance or may not be able to afford their co-pay," she says.

"So, we may be able to help individuals who come in on National Depression Screening Day if they need that afterward," Reich says.

The agency also offers a free, confidential online screening through a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.  To access the screening, go to http://www.mentalhealthscreening.org/screening/westboroughyfs.


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