People concerned about their mental health can jump-start a conversation with their doctor by self-screening for common disorders.
The M3 Screen, available at whatsmym3.com, is a one-page, 27-question checklist that screens for depression, bipolar disorder and several anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety, panic, social anxiety, simple phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Though an online search will find several other checklists that self-screen for single disorders, the M3 is unique in screening for multiple disorders.
“It screens as accurately as some of the single-disorder checklists,” said Dr. Bradley Gaynes, psychiatry professor at the University of North Carolina Medical School and the lead author of a study on the diagnostic validity of the M3, published in 2010 in the Annals of Family Medicine. (Gaynes is not employed by M3, which was created by a team of psychiatrists, but his study was funded by the company.)
After completing the form online, you immediately get an assessment interpreting your score and describing your risk for each disorder. The assessment also recommends actions to take, which typically involve sharing your results with your physician.
The M3 is not meant to diagnose a disorder but rather be “a first step to having the discussion with your clinician,” who can formulate a diagnosis and treatment plan, Gaynes said. Some doctors have patients fill out the form before an appointment.
Mental illness affects about 1 in 4 Americans and exacerbates morbidity from multiple chronic diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By putting screening in the patients’ hands, the M3 aims to help them and their primary care doctors recognize mental disorder symptoms.
“The more people get involved in their own health management, they’re more likely to have a better outcome,” Gaynes said.