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This series by Eric Litwiller of the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas looks at mental health in the Wichita area. It is in conjunction with the Wichita Journalism Collaborative.

Commentary: Add a mental health screening to your annual checkup

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Photo by Finn on Unsplash
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If you have not yet added an annual mental health screening to your medical calendar, this could be your year. In the last several months, nearly a dozen of Wichita’s most famous faces – including county commissioners, members of the city council, and local news anchors – have come together to offer their support in normalizing the concept of getting the “checkup from the neck up.” Everyone in Wichita is encouraged – for just one hour a year – to speak to a mental health practitioner just as you do with an annual medical check-up. If there are no issues, then you’ll know that. And if there are, you’ll know that too, and have the ability to catch potential concerns early, when intervention can make the most difference. Screenings can even be done, to a limited extent, online for illnesses including anxiety and depressive disorders, eating disorders, and for youth mental health, and they are offered in both English and Spanish.

The annual mental health check-up involves nothing more than speaking openly and honestly with a health practitioner for an hour, discussing the things in your life that might be causing a strain on yourself at work, in your relationships, or any other issues that may be affecting your health. And just like a physical health practitioner, they may make recommendations about ways to feel better.

According to the most recent data, Wichita saw increases in use of some online screenings of up to 900%. These increases do not seem sustainable, yet those in the mental health field will continue to offer their programs and be available as long as the need persists. In exchange, we hope that you will support those efforts for the good of everyone here in south central Kansas.

Links to mental health resources are at MHANational.org.

Eric Litwiller is the director of development and communications at the Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas.