18.3.1  Screening for specific mental illnesses


In general, this is the easiest type of mental illness to detect because often the person displays very disturbed behaviour. Remind yourself of typical symptoms (Study Session 13). The community will usually recognise people with these symptoms, but most of the time they will not have taken them to the health facility for help.

Depression and anxiety

These forms of mental illness are more difficult to detect. The person with depression is often quiet and withdrawn. They don’t cause a problem for other people and so it is easy to overlook their suffering. (In Study Session 12 you learned some questions that you can ask to screen a person for depression.)

Substance misuse

It may be obvious when a person is drinking too much alcohol, chewing too much khat, or using cannabis, but sometimes the problem is hidden. You should suspect a possible problem with alcohol, khat or cannabis if somebody is always getting into fights, or in trouble with the law, has a lot of accidents, or problems at work. (Some useful questions to screen for these problems were given in Study Session 14.)

18.3  Secondary prevention: screening and early treatment

18.3.2  Getting early treatment for mental illness