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BIG SPRING - Free, confidential depression screenings will be offered Thursday, Oct. 8, at First Church of the Nazarene, 1400 S. Lancaster, in Big Spring. 


The free screenings will be provided by mental health professionals of West Texas Centers and the Big Spring State Hospital and will accompany a food distribution site provided by Permian Basin Oil and Gas Ministry - a ministry of the Nazarene Church. 


Screenings will be available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 


People attending the screenings will have the option of remaining in their vehicles and being screened in a drive-thru setting. They will also have the option of coming inside the church if they prefer, said West Texas Centers CEO Shelley Smith, LMSW. 


“We are taking every precaution to make sure that people who attend this screening feel safe," Smith said. 


“We know that just making the effort to attend the screening takes a great deal of courage and we want to make this as easy as possible for everyone involved." 


West Texas Centers and Big Spring State Hospital have partnered for the past 20 years providing free depression screenings in Howard County. During that time they have assisted hundreds of people who were living with depression. 


The depression screenings are held on National Depression Screening Day, a day set aside to provide free screenings across the country to anyone who believes they may be living with depression but have not yet received a diagnosis. 


Upon arrival, attendees will be provided with a short questionnaire asking a series of questions. Upon completion, the answers will be reviewed by mental health professionals and followed by a short consultation. 


"We have found that many people may be living with depression and need someone to verify whether that is the case or if they are living within a period of sadness," Smith said. 


“We make every effort to provide a very comfortable, low-key setting so attendees can be given a chance to talk to a professional who understands what it is like to live with depression and can provide them with resources," Smith said. 


Mental health professionals will not be providing a diagnosis but will give attendees feedback on their answers to the questionnaire and local resources if further evaluation is needed. 


According to Mental Health America people living with depression often experience some of these key symptoms: a persistent sad, anxious or "empty” mood; sleeping too little, early morning awakening, or sleeping too much; reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain; loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed; restlessness or irritability; difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions; fatigue or loss of energy; thoughts of death or suicide. 


Smith expects a higher than larger turnout this year because of the anxiety of living in a pandemic. “People need support and we are so excited that the Nazarene Church is offering a food distribution event alongside our depression screening." 


The Permian Basin Oil Field and Energy Ministry - a ministry of First Church of the Nazarene assists workers and families of the energy sector and provides pop-up food distribution sites throughout the Permian Basin. 


Josh Cisneros, pastor of The Bridge Nazarene Church in Big Spring, said attendees may pull up in their vehicle and visit with ministry members regarding their food needs. The Nazarene Church partners with the Food Bank in Midland by providing a weeks' worth of nonperishable items for a family of three. 


“We want to meet their needs and give them hope," Cisneros said. 


West Texas Centers also offers a 24-hour Crisis Hotline for anyone who has questions or needs assistance. That number is 1-800-375-4357. 


West Texas Centers is the mental health authority for 23 counties in West Texas serving people in Andrews, Borden, Crane, Dawson, Fisher, Gaines, Garza, Glasscock, Howard, Kent, Loving, Martin, Mitchell, Nolan, Reeves, Runnels, Scurry, Terrell, Terry, Upton, Ward, Winkler and Yoakum counties. 


Big Spring State Hospital is a state-owned and operated facility for people living with behavioral health issues. 


For more information on the food pop-up, call 432-267-7015, ext. 1. 


For more information on the depression screening, call Amy Vidal at (432) 264-3256.

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