On Thursday, June 20, the national nonprofit Screening for Mental Health, Inc. will hold Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Screening Day. The initiative is an outreach, education, and screening program to raise awareness about PTSD in the community and help individuals with PTSD find opportunities for assessment and treatment.
Thousands of colleges, community-based organizations, and military installations will be hosting a screening program. Members of the public are urged to visit www.PTSDscreening.org to take a PTSD self-assessment online and to learn more about this common, yet treatable condition.
About 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women will experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetime, according to the National Center for PTSD, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Overall, about 8 percent of men and 20 percent of women will develop PTSD. Sometimes traumatic events affect an entire community, such as the Boston Marathon bombings. In other instances, traumatic events can affect a single individual. Examples of traumatic events include: natural disaster; fire; car accident; acts of violence, war, or terrorism; and media coverage of traumatic events.
Most people will have stress-related reactions following a traumatic event, yet only some will develop PTSD. If these reactions do not begin to go away over time or get worse, or impact day to day life, it may be PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD often include reliving the event through nightmares and flashbacks; avoiding situations that are reminders of the event such as large crowds or driving a car; developing negative changes in beliefs or feelings; and feeling hyper-alert or easily startled.
"PTSD is often associated with members of the military and veterans, but this isn't always the case," says Dr. Douglas G. Jacobs, founder and medical director of Screening for Mental Health, Inc. "While combat veterans do have a high rate of PTSD, we also see PTSD in members of the public, especially among first responders, victims of violence, or those affected by natural disasters."
Screening for Mental Health, Inc. provides online PTSD screenings at www.PTSDscreening.org. The screening is free and anonymous, providing a comfortable and private way for individuals to assess their symptoms. While the screenings are not diagnostic, they will indicate existing symptoms and if further assessment by a clinician is advisable. The screening site is accessible and free year round to the public.
Screening for Mental Health, Inc. (SMH) is the nonprofit organization that first introduced the concept of large-scale mental health screenings with its flagship program, National Depression Screening Day, in 1991. SMH programs include both in-person and online programs for depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, alcohol problems, and suicide prevention. SMH programs have been used by hospitals, mental health centers, social service agencies, government agencies, older adult facilities, primary care clinicians, colleges, secondary schools, corporations and military installations reaching individuals ranging from adolescents to older adults.