More than 61 million Americans suffer from a mental health illness, yet only 30 percent of them are seeking adequate care and treatment.
In an effort to help more Americans receive help with these mental disorders, Eastpointe MCO is contracting with MindKare to provide kiosks that are free standing computer stations that allow individuals to check their mental health, just as they do their blood pressure. The Sampson County Health Department is one of 12 agencies in the Eastpointe catchment area who is able to provide this service.
According to Courtney Boyette, community relations specialist with Eastpointe MCO, the kiosks work similar to the kiosks located in retail drug stores, but allow someone to learn more about their mental health.
“This is not a diagnostic assessment, but it can give someone a good indication of what may be wrong with them and recommend the proper type of treatment,” Boyette said.
By placing the kiosks at local health departments, Boyette said there is more accessibility to the public, a greater ability to reach the underserved, raise awareness to certain mental issues, reduce the stigma associated with mental health, prevent mental health issues from worsening and provide a guide for needed services.
“Someone can come in for an appointment, and while they are waiting, they can use the kiosk to do a screening on themselves or someone else they are concerned about,” Boyette explained.
Sampson County Health Department director Wanda Robinson says the kiosk is very beneficial, helping raise awareness and reduce stigma associated with mental health.
“One big obstacle in treating mental health, especially in doing preventive treatment, is the stigma attached to it,” Robinson said. “Using this kiosk in a space like Sampson County Health Department is important because it raises awareness and it mainstreams mental health. This kiosk will help Sampson County Health Department reach an underserved population and help guide people to needed services.”
In today’s society, more people are familiar with technology, using kiosks in other locations like supermarkets, drug stores, convenience stores, malls, banks, gyms and college campuses. For this reason, Boyette said Eastpointe felt the kiosks would be a great asset to the mental health field.
“Putting the kiosk at the health department allows us to better reach the families and individuals in the community,” Boyette said. “Many times, people don’t know how to access treatment for certain illnesses, but the kiosk will guide them in the right direction.”
As part of the mental health assessment, the kiosk screen will display questions, allowing the user to type in answers. Those using the kiosk are informed that the assessment is not a means of a diagnosis, but rather away to inform the person that is using the kiosk on how to take steps to seek treatment.
“Since the Sampson County Health Department has been using the kiosk, they have made a lot more referrals,” Boyette explained. “Before, people didn’t really ask for help.”
The kiosk screens for conditions such as anxiety, depression, post-trauma stress, substance abuse and eating disorders. Immediate feedback is given once the survey is complete.
“People often receive a physical check-up from the neck down, but having this kiosk in our main lobby will allow our clients and the public a voluntary opportunity to get a check-up from the neck up,” Robinson shared. “The kiosk process provides people who take the screening with a better understanding of his or her mental health.”
According to Boyette, the kiosk monitor has a privacy screen that blurs the screen when seen at indirect angles to enhance privacy, and when the user is finished with the survey, the kiosk provides them with resources to seek additional help, including the 24-hour access line, hotlines, like a suicide prevention line, support lines and family support lines.
Kiosks are not only for individuals who think they have a mental health condition, but for the general public. For that reason, the local kiosk has been placed in the lobby of the health department.
According to Boyette, kiosks are equipped with a telephone which allows connection to Eastpointe’s Call Center that is manned 24 hours a day.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.