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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Testing your mental health in the privacy of home

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Nowadays, it’s not unusual for people to seek medical advice from the Internet instead of scheduling a visit with their physician. A plethora of websites offer symptom readers where patients are given a “diagnosis” based upon the symptoms they enter. Although some medical professionals may frown upon the idea, a new medical assessment allows those who fear they have a mental illness a less intimidating way to talk to a doctor.

“What’s my M3” is a free three-minute online and smartphone assessment that tests for depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder. Physicians and psychiatrists encourage patients to monitor their mood often by answering a series of questions related to mental health.

“We want to provide primary care doctors with a tool which will, as best as possible, create the expertise of a psychiatrist,” said Dr. Gerald Hurowitz, M3 Clinician chief medical officer and one of the creators of the assessment. “It makes the primary care doctor much more effective.”

The National Institute of Mental Health said 18.6 percent of African-Americans were diagnosed with a mental health disorder in 2012.

The What’s my M3 assessment gives an overall global score to patients but also provides four sub scores in the categories of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder. All patients test and submit data completely anonymous.

Dr. Steve Daviss, chair of the department of psychiatry at Baltimore Washington Medical Center and clinical assistant professor in the University of Maryland School of Medicine said the test while accurate, isn’t meant to serve as a diagnosis.

“We compared the scores of 650 primary care patients who have been using M3 to patients using a gold standard clinical diagnostic interview using a research tool and we found the diagnosis of the gold standard interview aligned with our diagnosis 85 percent of the time,” said Daviss. “Patients with scores above 33 are at a higher risk of having a mental illness but we make it clear only mental health experts can diagnose. We are hoping people will take the information to their providers.”

Experts say many patients are misdiagnosed with a mental illness that result in a delay of correct diagnosis, wasted time and money. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2002, the U.S. spent $300 billion on costs related to researching and treating mental illnesses.

For more information on What’s my M3, visit whatsmym3.com.

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