The problem with depression screening tests and “scales” in general

I am commenting here on the MIA article,

https://www.madinamerica.com/2018/08/screening-instruments-not-reflect-individual-experiences-depression/

I do know people get deeply depressed but I hesitate to call it depression except to recall that it used to have a double meaning. The first, and more common meaning, years ago, was a deep sadness or despair. The second meaning, which has risen in popularity recently, is that depression is some kind of disease. I see a problem here since the meanings have a common ground, so a listener or reader might easily assume one or the other, while the speaker/writer may very well have meant something different.

“I’ve been depressed lately.” What does this mean? Does it mean you feel like shit, have no motivation, and have an underlying feeling of the senselessness in life? Does it mean you have grown to hate humanity because of the number of times you have been harmed by others? Or that you are at a dead end?

Or…let’s see…maybe it means…”I have a disease with a bunch of symptoms I need to report to my ‘treatment team’ right away.”

You pick.

I love Red Squirrel’s commentary on the article in regards to “scales.” Here I want to ask any teachers out there: How do you measure student performance if your administration demands that you use a grading system?

My opinion is that lack of grading improves the quality of education. I am not sure where I can find “studies” that support this claim, but those of you out there who have been students in both graded and ungraded situations might shed some light here.

How do students get graded? Looking back on my college years, I can recall my instructors had various responses to the administrative requirement to assign grades. A multiple choice test is easier to grade than a test containing open-ended questions or an essay type of test. One instructor said it took a very long time to design a test that would challenge us in the way she wanted. The test she eventually gave us involved answering a simple question that had several possible answers and then explaining the rationale for our answers in a few paragraphs. Instructors know that a cut-and-dry multiple choice test is very easy to grade. Such tests can be graded by computer even! Experienced teachers know that this is the easy way out! Students, too, can more readily cheat on such tests.

How depressed are you? Shall we take a multiple choice or true/false test to determine such a thing? Now this makes it easy to scale a person’s mood (and, perhaps, in these doc’s eyes, worthiness) on a scale of one to ten or whatever scales they want to use. Just give the suckers a form periodically, hand them a #2 pencil, then, scan the form and get a printout. It’s called scientific assessment. Really?

Doing it that way saves money, since to do it in a more accurate way takes real human beings to sit down with these despicable “clients,” spend time with them and be in close proximity as well. This might be objectionable to many of the staff, so maybe such assessment should be done  in a more sanitary, cheap, and efficient manner.

Of course, if you end up in the patient role, you may spend hours and hours in an office with someone called a therapist…years and years…and then, wonder where the rest of life went off to.

You pick.

 

4 thoughts on “The problem with depression screening tests and “scales” in general”

  1. Hi Julie

    I totally agree with questioning these things!

    My experience in high school was with grades— butvthis was a school that had us write a composition every weekend too, so that tells you something!

    In college both at Brown and at Kirkland where I spent a semester we could choose not to go for grades but evaluations only. Then in med school too the entire class — that is to say, my graduating class — was evaluated on a pass/no credit system!

    I found the lack of grades much better for me as I was not pressured or self -pressured to be a grade grubber but learned to study out of sheer interest and love for my studies . In fact after high school I would never have attended any school that graded or tested in any other fashion !

    Am not sure this will post from my phone so I won’t write more now.

    Love

    Phoebe

    1. I found the exact same thing at college. Grades are limiting. If you love what you are studying and the class is grade-free then you can really soar in your studies. I went to Bennington where we didn’t have grades and I loved it. Goddard also did not grade. Emerson did. I think it fostered both unnecessary competitiveness and also, wasn’t good for those who insisted on doing only the bare minimum. The instructors were good on a whole but a few were lazy.

    1. It is so easy to fly though a depression screening test, especially if you are aware that that’s what it is. I was given one in 2016 when I was examined for a neck injury. They actually halted it and didn’t ask the rest of the questions since it was obvious I am not depressed. Didn’t have to fake it, either.

Feedback and comments welcome!