In 2014, 15.7 million adults suffered from at least one major depressive episode, making it one of the most common behavioral health conditions in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Major depression is also highly treatable once diagnosed, so making that diagnosis is critical.

Recommendations made today by an independent expert panel could make it easier for adults to get the treatment they need. For the first time, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all adults be screened for depression by their primary care physician at least once. In addition to screening the general adult population, the task force includes the recommendation that women who are pregnant or have recently given birth be screened by their primary care physician.

This is a critical step to integrating behavioral and physical health in primary care.  Hospitals see first-hand the heavy toll that untreated, serious mental illness imposes on patients, families and communities. That’s why helping hospitals apply the best available science to treat all of the needs of their patients is a key part of the AHA’s behavioral health initiative.

We will continue to provide hospitals with the tools and resources necessary to promote the total health — physical and behavioral — of our patients and communities.