How Are You Feeling?
Drop by the supermarket to pick up a loaf of bread or a carton of milk, and while you’re there you can sit down at a machine and take your blood pressure. No one thinks anything of it.
Mental health can be an altogether different issue. Depression, anxiety and other common conditions still carry a stigma, so thinking about their mental health is often the last thing people want to do. And certainly machines to help you assess your mood or emotional state aren’t particularly common.
Thanks to the new MindKare kiosk in the emergency department at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, that could be changing.
The MindKare kiosk stands across from the triage desk in the emergency department, near the waiting area, its touch screen looking like an automated teller machine. Across the screen are the welcoming words: How Are You Feeling?
Step up to the machine, and follow a few prompts. In a minute or two, you can answer screening questions about a range of mental health concerns. These include depression, post-traumatic stress, alcoholism, eating disorders, and more. Once you’ve completed the assessment, you can elect to receive helpful links and local resources emailed to you.
Erasing the Stigma with the MindKare Kiosk
Roxanne Tims, RN, BSN, CEN, manages the MindKare program at Einstein Montgomery, and she sees the kiosk as a way to begin to erase the stigma associated with mental health.
“For me, mental health should always be a part of a routine checkup and physical,” Tims says. “It should be simple, for example, like getting cough medicine if you have a cough. If you feel you’re having a mental health issue, you should know where to go or call. Sometimes I believe that is part of the problem—people don’t know where to get assistance in the myriad of mental health issues.”
Mental health conditions like depression or anxiety, she points out, can control your life if left undiagnosed and untreated. And it’s a much more serious problem than many of us realize. About one in five adults in the U.S. experiences a mental illness every year. (National Institute of Mental Health)
Depression in particular is the leading cause of disability for people 15 to 44 years of age, affecting nearly 15 million Americans. For most of us—eight out of 10—treatment brings about an improvement in symptoms, but two out of three with symptoms of depression do not seek the appropriate treatment. (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance)
Anonymous and Confidential
So far, most Einstein MindKare kiosk inquiries relate to just that one issue, depression, and use of the kiosk is trending upward.
Einstein’s MindKare kiosk is one of five in Montgomery County. The others are at the Ambler YMCA, Manna on Main Street in Lansdale, Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, and Norristown Regional Health Center. Funding for the kiosk was provided by The HealthSpark Foundation in Colmar, Pa.
The MindKare assessment is entirely anonymous and confidential. Tims has access to only basic statistical information.
“The only thing I can ever see is, what screening types are people taking, and how many people used the kiosk,” she says. “That’s the best part of it. Because it’s anonymous, people feel comfortable using it.” There is also an online link: http://screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/einstein