Calgary

New online depression initiative aims to screen uber-connected youth

It's no secret that young Canadians feel at home online and a new national mental health campaign is aiming to take advantage of that to get more people screened for depression this week.

Calgary Counselling Centre partners with local universities to bring national initiative to Calgary

The Calgary Counselling Centre is hosting a free, quick screening test for depression on their website ahead of National Depression Screening Day and is working with local universities to get the word out. (CBC)

It's no secret that young Canadians feel at home online and a new national mental health campaign is aiming to take advantage of that to get more people screened for depression this week.

October 9 will mark National Depression Screening Day and the Calgary Counselling Centre has partnered with post-secondary institutions for the week to host an anonymous online depression screening test. The goal is to help young people find out within minutes whether they should seek help for depression — and it can be taken on a smartphone, laptop or tablet.

"We know that young people, university students, are highly vulnerable to depression. That's the age where it often shows up," said Robbie Babins-Wagner, CEO of the Calgary Counselling Centre. "It's an opportune time to get young people involved, to get them to take the test."

She says the test can also help prevent people from going without help and potentially hurting themselves.

Kevin Breel, 21, says he is a testament to the value of early detection.

When he was 17, he wanted to commit suicide but was able to get help and now works as an ambassador for mental health.

However, he says he understands not everyone wants to be as public as he is and that allowing people to remain anonymous during screening is important.

"There's this contrast between, well, do we want people to be anonymous if this whole thing is [about] reducing the shame and the secrecy?" Breel said. "I think sometimes it's just about meeting people where they are."

The test takes less than five minutes to complete and will be hosted on the Calgary Counselling Centre's website from Oct. 6 to Oct. 9.

The test doesn't offer a diagnosis but rather highlights whether symptoms of depression are present and offers a referral for evaluation if needed.

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