Friday, August 8, 2014

Program Lets People Get Mental Health Checkups Before Entering Checkout Line

Milk? Check. Potatoes? Check. Loaf of bread? Check. Mental health screening? At your local supermarket? Yes, that's available too.

A mental health screening kiosk opened August 5 at a QCare retail health clinic within a ShopRite grocery store in Philadelphia as a way to get more people to think about their mental well-being and about getting help if they are experiencing signs of a mental disorder. The system uses electronic tablets to ask patients anonymously in either English or Spanish about such conditions as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, alcohol misuse, or eating disorders. Individuals screening positive for symptoms of one or more of the disorders can be referred to local sources for treatment.

The idea was the winning submission in the 2014 Design Challenge sponsored by the Thomas Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation in collaboration with two Drexel University School of Public Health graduate students, Gregory Caplan and Teresa Moore. The screening intervention itself was developed by the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disability Services in cooperation with Screening for Mental Health Inc., and was based on a similar, existing screener on the department’s website.

At the clinic, the kiosk screen asks shoppers a few questions about themselves and how they feel, then provides feedback on the responses, followed by a list of resources for mental health care, if needed. Special modules are built into the program to educate users about mental illness and to log the number of screenings, demographic information, and types of disorders recorded for later analysis.

"One effective way to combat the widely prevalent stigma of mental illness is to promote the concept of mental well-being," said Naushad Jessani, M.D., past president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society. "The mental health screening kiosk at the supermarket should serve as a wonderful launching pad for introducing the concept of early detection and treatment of common mental illnesses and thus maintaining optimal mental well-being."

To read more about innovative programs in Philadelphia’s public mental health system, see the Psychiatric News article, “CBT Gets Citywide Rollout In Philadelphia’s MH System.”

(Image: hxdbzxy/


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