With many people still struggling in the wake of the pandemic, this week’s National Depression Screening Day reminds Marylanders to take stock of their mental health.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports the average delay between the onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment is 11 years.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports one in five adults says the pandemic has had a “significant negative impact” on their mental health. Credit: Adobe Stock

At Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, clinicians and faith-based leaders worked together to create the Congregational Depression Awareness Program.

Rev. Pamula Yerby-Hammack, the executive pastor of City of Abraham Church and Ministries in Baltimore, said it is an important tool to help faith-based communities learn more about depression.

“The purpose of CDAP is to invite lay people and clergy to learn more about depression,” Yerby-Hammack stressed. “Because the truth is that all of us can play a part in helping people get the help they need as they go through this journey of depression.”

Statistics indicate one in five U.S. adults experiences mental illness each year, and 40% do not seek treatment. Depression Screening Day is on Oct. 6.

Yerby-Hammack pointed out things are improving in terms of faith-based communities being more accepting of the partnership with mental health professionals in treatment. She sees the program as proof.

“CDAP provides clinical information, a theological perspective on depression, lived experiences; people giving their testimonies of what it’s like to have depression,” Yerby-Hammack noted. “It also provides some resources they can take back to their particular community.”

Symptoms of depression are varied, and there are different speeds of depression onset, multiple types of depression, and different intensities.

Denise Johnson, a senior practice associate for the National Association of Social Workers, said depression is more than just a bad day.

“Depression is very common and can result from several social, psychological, and biological factors,” Johnson emphasized. “It’s more than just a ‘bad day’ or feeling down, and it’s not something that people can just snap out of. It negatively affects how a person feels, the way that they think, the way that they act.”

Johnson explained symptoms must last at least two weeks and represent a change from the person’s previous level of functioning.

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