Nearly all counties in Western Carolina are now home to self-serve kiosks where people can learn more about mental illness – and determine whether they might be suffering from one. The kiosks are really just a computer screen, with no keyboard and a phone is attached to the screen. With just a few touches on the screen, users can learn the symptoms of several common mental health conditions says Jessie Smathers of Vaya Health, which helped place the kiosks around the region. “This has screenings for bipolar disorder, for depression, for post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance use disorders. There’s also a screening for parents to take for their adolescent child.”
Smathers is quick to point out the kiosks do not diagnose, but rather give information and resources for a person to follow up with. Since they’re free and offer a level of anonymity, he believes the kiosks can help someone who’s struggling but doesn’t know where to turn. “70% of mental health issues go untreated. And mental health issues usually result in other complications with physical health. Because if you’re depressed, you don’t typically take care of yourself like you should.”
The kiosks are in 21 of 23 counties in Western North Carolina that Vaya serves, and the company expects to put ones in the final two counties without one soon. The Buncombe County kiosk unveiled this week sits on the second floor of the county’s health and human services building in Asheville. Others across the region are placed in libraries and health departments.