May is Mental Health Awareness Month

"Simply put, treatment works, if you can get it. But in America today, it is clear that many people living with mental illness are not provided with the essential treatment they need."   

-Michael J Fitzpatrick executive director of MAMI National ,
 National Alliance on Mental Illness.  
Grading the States 2006, Arlington, VA.

One in four adults, approximately 57.7 million Americans, experience a mental health disorder in a given year.  One in 17 lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder and about one in 10 children live with a serious mental or emotional disorder.  

According to the latest available data, Wyoming ranks 34 out of 50 states coming in at 33.2% in prevalence of poor mental health within the State. 

HMVMC is committed to caring for our patients in all aspects of their healthcare. Mental health is health, and not a separate issue about which we should be ashamed.  The stigma surrounding mental health often is the cause of patients refusing to seek help with their issues.   Providers and Volunteers at the Clinic are especially sensitive to individuals seeking help for diagnoses of depression and anxiety.   When the needs of our patients exceeds our scope of care (beyond basic primary comprehensive, non-emergency medical services) we seek referrals to resources in the community that offer specialized services.  We are able to treat patients with mild depression, anxiety and hypertension, but for complicated diagnoses like major depression, schizophrenia, and bi-polar disorder, we refer patients to Yellowstone Behavioral Health.   "Walk-in" patients to the Clinic experiencing acute episodes of these mental health conditions, are escorted to the Emergency Room for treatment.

We strive to provide care in a loving environment and on many occasions our patients have commented upon leaving the Clinic that they now feel there is hope and a light at the end of the tunnel.  We offer comfort and security without judgement, acting as advocates for our patients to yield the most positive outcomes in their health.

If you or someone you know is experiencing depression or anxiety and think you or they might qualify to be seen at the Free Clinic (see our index under Patient Eligibility), please call us today at 307-754-1142 to make an appointment to be screened.  

If you or someone you know is suffering from major depression or thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 
1-800-273-talk (8255).  

Depression symptoms Diagnosing depression

lthough there is no blood test to diagnose depression, there are well-developed clinical guidelines used by health care professionals to diagnose major depressive disorder. One of these guidelines, developed by the American Psychiatric Association, is called the DSM-IV®. Your health care professional may ask you questions based on this established diagnostic tool.

According to the DSM-IV, major depressive disorder (or "depression") is diagnosed when five or more of the following symptoms of depression are present for most of the day, nearly every day for at least 2 weeks. At least one of the symptoms must be either persistent sad or “empty” feelings or loss of interest in activities.

Symptoms of depression

Here are some depression symptoms included in the DSM-IV:

  • Constant sadness
  • Irritability
  • Hopelessness
  • Feeling worthless or guilty for no reason
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Significant weight change
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Difficulty concentrating

Be sure to tell your health care professional if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms. Share whether your symptoms are affecting your ability to function at home, at work, or in social settings.

Successfully treating depression is a realistic goal. Seeking treatment can be difficult, but it means that you have the courage to look for a way to feel better.