Mental Health Screening Kiosks Coming To North Carolina

By Britni de la Cretaz 04/17/17

The confidential kiosks provide information and resources for treating mental health issues such as depression, PTSD and anxiety. 

A student demonstrating how to use the mental health screening kiosk.
A student demonstrating how to use the mental health screening kiosk. Photo via YouTube

The Edgecombe County Health Department in Tarboro, North Carolina will be getting a mental health screening kiosk in its waiting room. The hope is that more people will seek out services after utilizing the free-standing MindKare Kiosks, which provide self-assessment tools, information on different mental health disorders, as well as connections to resources that can provide support and treatment. People can use the kiosks confidentially.

The kiosks include screenings for six mental health issues: anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and alcohol use disorder, according to MindKare’s website. People can also access the assessment questionnaire online, where they can be connected directly to the county health department’s call center for immediate assistance, and make an appointment to see a provider, explained Karen Salacki of Eastpointe, a behavioral health organization.

“This is the first step over many years people will see in this health department and in this community of more cutting-edge technology and other initiatives to integrate physical and behavioral health,” Salacki told the Rocky Mount Telegram.

The kiosks were developed by Screening For Mental Health, a Massachusetts-based organization that aims to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness. Their kiosks are designed for public spaces, with the goal of “making learning about and screening for treatable mental health conditions as commonplace as a blood pressure screening.”

They can be customized for the organization or audience that hosts the kiosk. “Sometimes with a mental health issue, you don’t want to go and sit down and talk with someone,” said Karen Lachapelle, health director with the Edgecombe County Health Department. “The kiosk isn’t going to counsel you, but just help you get to the right resources.”

The first MindKare Kiosk debuted at a QCare clinic inside a Philadelphia ShopRite in 2014. There was one placed at Drexel University’s student recreation center in 2015. By 2016, there were five kiosks in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

In North Carolina, Lachapelle says one of the biggest challenges is the “lack of providers and getting people to providers" because transportation can be an issue for patients who live far away. She's hoping that “by getting enough data [through the kiosks]" the issue of the lack of transportation or accessible providers will be resolved.

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.