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Reality Check: How to get a checkup from the neck up in minutes

Vaya Health is placing a mental health kiosk in all Western North Carolina counties. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

A new way to screen for mental health issues has come to the mountains. Vaya Health is placing mental health kiosks in all Western North Carolina counties.

How many times a day do you ask, or answer, this question: How are you?

"And how many people answer that question honestly? And, really, when we we ask that question, do we really want people to answer honestly," asked Jesse Smathers, Vaya Health's network development director.

Smathers believes people would answer more honestly if they could do so anonymously. Vaya's mental health kiosk offers a way to do that.

"It's a lot easier to punch in your true feelings when something's anonymous on a machine versus talking to somebody. So, I think that'll help people that need that," Craig Messer, of Haywood County, said as he checked out the kiosk.

The kiosk offers nine screenings, but first it asks for some demographic information. That data will enable counties to track trends. The screening options include an eating disorder, PTSD and depression.

The kiosk is meant to be a first step in mental health, raising awareness about potential issues. If there is a crisis, a phone is there for immediate help.

"This is not diagnostic. It's just a screening. So, no one should take this and think 'Oh, I have depression.' What they should do is consult with their primary care physician as a first step to determine whether they have true symptoms and signs of depression," Smathers said.

Vaya is rolling these kiosks out throughout the mountains. Smathers showed us one in Clyde inside Haywood County's Social Services and Health building. The social services director estimates 200 people a day come through the lobby.

"I think it's an ideal spot if you're trying to give people information about services, because they're typically coming here because they're in need of some service," said Donna Lupton, Haywood County's social work services director.

Vaya hopes raising awareness about the kiosks' existence leads to increased use. Messer thinks it works.

"I think it's cool. I've never seen something like this before, but I think it's effective in helping people that need help," he said.

The goal is to help decrease the stigma about mental health. You can take a screening 24/7 here.

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